“Sports is 80% mental and 20% physical.”
Is your child aggressive or defensive?
When an Unstoppable Force meets an Immovable Object, who wins? As a coach or a parent, you are likely to witness this classic matchup at some point. Just as each of us can identify as more of an extrovert or introvert, we all fall somewhere on the spectrum of Aggressive or Defensive. In children, this is often most clear in play and the world of sports.
We prize attackers for their ability to drive forward and take ground. Left unchecked, that drive may leave them open to counter-attack. Defenders are praised for their ability to secure a stronghold and shutdown an opponent. They may also forsake a scoring opportunity over concern that it could weaken their position.
This concept captures more than just our position preference in sports. It is an integral part of our nature. This does not mean we are locked into one track for the rest of our lives, it simply means we each have a dominant personality trait.
Help your child understand his strength
Defenders will still score and attackers will continue to make big saves; and both will be exhilarating. It’s our job to help them develop appreciation for the diversity of strengths and abilities.
We hear about coaches described as offensive masterminds or defensive gurus. Do we believe they would enjoy similar success if forced to coach the opposing side of the ball?
Our strengths allow us to see specific patterns better. Does your child easily spot holes in the opponent’s defense or do the angles necessary to close off lines of attack jump out at them?
Through play, we can help children identify their natural abilities and find fulfillment in sports and life. Forcing a child to play against his or her nature is both detrimental and impractical. Don’t expect a marathon runner to take gold in the 100m dash. To harness natural strength is to develop it without neglecting the fundamentals.
We all play better when it is fun. It’s fun when we are allowed to get in the zone and focus on what we do best. When we play to our strengths, and recognize the strength in others, we begin to understand that behind every winner is a great team.
- Observe them at play.
- Note their smiles and successes.
- Engage them in active, constructive conversation.
- Draw them into a detailed discussion of positive events – “You seem to enjoy ________. Why?”
- Reflect their strengths back to them – give them a conscious frame of reference.
- Support them in their development.
- Help them find a well-matched training partner.
- Encourage them to work in their strengths without becoming narrow specialists – master the fundamentals.
- Ask them to observe and identify the strengths of their teammates and opponents to develop a healthy appreciation for the diversity of talents.
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