Youth sports are a great way to keep kids active, engaged with their peers, and instill beneficial lessons such as: overcoming obstacles, working as a team, and the importance of sportsmanship. However, when we keep score, there is inevitably a winner, and a strong desire to succeed. It’s not easy to focus on fun when it feels like winning is everything. As coaches and caregivers, it’s important to help players develop a healthy relationship with sports and provide strategies to help them cope with the stress of competition. Remember, whether you’re in the midst of an undefeated season or simply playing in the backyard with friends, the goal is to have fun and stay active.
Practice these tips to help your player cope with sports-induced stress:
Provide Positive Encouragement.
Focus on providing encouragement without adding pressure. Validate your player’s feelings, and motivate without pushing too hard.
Teach Deep Breathing.
Teach them the benefits of deep-breathing techniques. 5 deep breaths in a quiet space can help a player manage their emotions independently.
Remind Kids They are Supported.
Encourage players to pause and think about their friends and family who love and support them-win or lose.
Promote Positive Self-Talk.
Ensure your players are kind to themselves. When they have negative thoughts, suggest using positive self-talk phrases like: “Everyone makes mistakes.”, “I’m learning!” or “I’m trying my best, and that’s what’s important.”
Don’t Require Perfection.
Make sure you communicate to the team that you do not require perfection. Kids will quickly pick up on this unrealistic expectation. It can create stress and suck the fun out of youth sports. Focus on growth and work ethic, instead.
Learn more about how stress impacts your body and brain with the video: What Happens to Your Body When You Stress.
In this edition of the Sanford fitSports video, we’ll see how a healthy attitude, proper mechanics, and body movements are influential when fielding in baseball. Think fit, be fit!
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