Making mistakes in sports is part of the game. Every athlete needs to know, believe, and act upon this fact.
To have any kind of success, an athlete must accept that making mistakes in sports is inevitable, and he must then realize that his ability to handle those errors will result in him moving forward or going nowhere.
In this short video, 2014 USA Paralympic Hockey Team Head Coach Jeff Sauer discusses how players recover from mistakes.
If you can, get the team to think like the goaltender. Get it out of their mind. Move forward. It’s going to happen.
I like what he says and his advice is indeed solid, but let’s be honest: We can tell our kids to forget it until we are blue in the face, however helping them break the habit of beating themselves up will take time.
How can you help your child get over making mistakes in sports?
Don’t dwell on your child’s mistakes. Your kid knows he made a mistake. He doesn’t need you to keep bringing it up. Yes, he needs to hear what he could do different next time, and then again, he may not need to hear it because he already knows.
Don’t punish for mistakes. I don’t believe kids should be punished for honest mistakes. And I think that more coaches should apply that to making mistakes in sports. Pulling a kid out of a game because he made one mistake is punishing him. Giving him a rest after repeated mistakes is allowing him to get his head together so that he can get back in the game. My son played for a basketball coach whose team played in fear that one mistake on the court would get them yanked.
Let him own it. Yes, he should accept that he made an error. But that’s where it ends. Champions do not have the time to mope about mistakes.
Point out the positives. Positive Coaching Alliance calls it the 5:1 Principle. Give five positive comments for every negative one. At the very least, use the sandwich approach: a positive comment, constructive criticism, another positive comment. If we are only point out the negatives, our kids will focus on those negatives, instead of on the positive that they can and should do.
Remember, it’s a learning process. The ability to recover from making mistakes is a habit that is not easily aquired. Mental toughness is a skill that can be taught and achieved, but it will not happen overnight. If you feel your child needs help in building these skills, find him an expert who can help him build these good habits. Then, be patient, keep encouraging, and in time you will see results.
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