Q.) What are the most important things I can do to best help my child athlete?
To be a great parent coach, I feel it essential that you help your child with the mental part of their game (in additional to the physical demands their sport poses). There are several factors here you can employ which will all have a direct and positive benefit upon your child's self image and performance.
A.) Engage them in genuine interest "chalk-talks".
First, be as enthusiastic and excited as they are when you talk to them about their sport. Always show a keen - and genuine - interest about what they do, and how they do it. Talk them up, build them up, and appropriately lavish them with enthused support (i.e., "I'm proud of what you're doing, and I want to help you become the best you can be!").
Engage them in specific conversations about their sport by asking them how they did in practice, and/or how they played in their game (assuming you did not attend).
Comfortably and "matter of factly" get them to talk about their performance, including what good things they did, and what aspects they feel they can improve upon. (Through these type discussions, you'll see numerous opportunities where you can help, support, advise and counsel them.)
Be a good listener here, and let them share - in their own words - their thoughts and feelings about this very important aspect of their lives. [*Make sure you engage these talks in a free form fashion so they're spontaneous, fresh, and do not appear calculated or structured.]
B.) Encourage quality practice efforts...consistently (both with their team,
and on an individual basis).
Be sure to emphasize this to a similar degree as you would their schoolwork, homework, and piano lessons.
Genuinely encourage them to practice, work out, and train to get better (and allow them the time necessary to do this). In so doing you'll be supportively moving them to take action to improve themselves. And this is an exceedingly beneficial affinity which will pay rich dividends — throughout their childhood and adult lives.
C.) Reinforce, reward, and praise genuine positive efforts.
I encourage you to do this for positive efforts where they genuinely exert themselves to demonstrate the fullest extent of their skill, and/or reflect decisive levels of hustle.
I feel it's extremely important you reward these kinds of actions reflected in game situations where they made a special play, or produced a noteworthy result (i.e., scored a goal, scored a touchdown, got a hit, made a key tackle, performed a new trick on the balance beam, etc.).
And your praise/reward recognition can consist of hugs and kisses, preparing their favorite meal, letting them stay up later, or even just sharing with them how proud you are of what they've done. [*You acknowledging their special effort and/or excellence is akin to watering a tree; it then comes to grow...and flourish!]
D.) Encourage and allow them to watch their favorite teams and players.
After they've watched their favorite team or player perform, ask them questions such as, "What do you think you can learn from them? What do you think you can do differently in your next practice, so you do things the way they might? How do you think you have to practice so you can become more like them?"
You can ask your own personally tailored questions as well. The key is, through your questions, helping them to move from just watching their favorite team/player for entertainment purposes, to helping them use what they see as a motivational/inspirational catalyst.
Q.) I notice my kid continually gets nervous before games. Is there anything I can do
to help them?
Pre-game nervousness is an all too common occurrence with child players. They don't know what to expect, they don't know what's expected of them, they "hope" they can please others and give a good showing, they don't know what will happen...and on, and on!
To help them neutralize their pre-game fears, and move them in a positive mental/emotional direction, perform this easy process with them before they leave for their game.
• Tell them, "______, let me show you something you can do so you can feel good, confident, have fun, and play at your best." (And say this with enthusiasm and conviction.)
• Have them sit comfortably, close their eyelids down, and take 3 deep breaths (inhaling through their nostrils, and exhaling slowly through their mouth).
• With their eyelids now closed, ask them, "_______, if you could play how you wanted to today, how would this be for you..."
• Then say to them, "Imagine you're beginning your game - right now - feeling the way you want to, and playing the way you want to. And in your mind, go ahead and:
1.) See clearly what you do.
2.) See clearly how you do it.
3.) Notice how you feel so at ease and natural as you perform.
4.) Notice the results you produce because you're playing this way.
(Allow at least 1 minute to elapse after you ask each of questions #1-4 so they can mentally picture, and feel themselves acting it out.)
• Then say, "Good; excellent. Now, just easily let your eyelids open, inhale...and stretch."
• Then say to them, "_______, tell me why you're a good player." Let them tell you any and everything they might feel here. Then give them a "good boy/girl; I love you" hug, and take them to their game.
You can use this process before each game until they tell you they're not nervous, they're excited. The process will help your child develop positive expectancy, and a good pervasive feeling of confidence regarding playing in their game.
Remember, kids naturally have a very fertile imagination, and love playing "make believe." With this process, you're helping to direct this tendency in an exceedingly resourceful, success/effectiveness related manner (in their thoughts, and feelings).
Q.) If my kid has a poor game (i.e. dropped the ball, struck out, flubbed a big play, etc.)
and comes home frustrated, embarrassed and shameful, what can I do to help them
I remember a Little League All Star game I played in at age 11. The game was tied, 2 outs in the last inning, and runners were on second and third base.
I was a pretty good hitter. But I recall how nervous I felt in that moment, feeling I had to win the game for us; it was totally up to me!
I already had 2 hits in my previous at bats. But in this moment of truth situation, I struck out miserably. I wished there was a hole I could have crawled into because of how embarrassed and humiliated I was. I also wished I had someone who could have taken me through the following process, so I could have gotten over it, and wouldn't have to live with the lingering sting of failure.
After your child has a poor performance game, your purpose as a parent coach is not to "cheer them up" as much as it is to help them re-ignite their confidence, sense of ability, and enthusiasm for their next game.
Do the following:
1.) Let them tell you about their feelings and experience. Don't try to soften or direct their feelings here, or play emotional savior. Let them cry if they do. Let them express anger, or anguish if they do. Let whatever they have to say, and the way they say it, just pour out from them the way it does. (Just be aware they're hurting internally because of what happened. Let them have, own, and express this hurt, without you endeavoring to pacify or negate it.)
2.) Next, lovingly ask them to gently close their eyelids down, and say to them, "______, if you could have played it all over again, what would you have done differently - right from the right - so what you know you can do, would have been done decisively?"
Pose this question twice, then say, "Go ahead and imagine what you would have done differently in your game situation. And what would your results have been then?" (Allow 2-3 minutes for them to mentally play out this scenario.)
3.) Then, with their eyelids still closed down, say to them, "_______, tell me what you did differently, and what happened because of it." (Let them fully respond here.)
4.) Next, say, "Ok _______, let your eyelids open now, inhale deeply...and stretch."
5.) Take them to stand in front of a mirror, and say, "Tell the person you see in the mirror who you are as a player." (Let them fully respond here.) Then say, "Now, tell who you see in the mirror what you know you'll do next game!" (Again, let them fully respond here.)
6.) Next, give them a warm "I love you" hug.
You'll notice a striking change within them after this process. A sense of relief coupled with a yearning for their next opportunity is the best way to describe the context of this change.
You don't have to let your child wallow in misery due to a poor performance. Step in and help them through it, so in their next outing, they are eager to play, and can come to decidedly shine!
Requested Post Article Blurb:
"Acclaimed author and results specialist, Peter C. Siegel is America's foremost peak performance hypnotherapist. To review his numerous self help programs, log on to www.incrediblechange.com."
Note from Chris Cady:
Nationally prominent self help author, seminar leader, and personal change specialist, Peter C. Siegel was America's foremost sports and peak performance hypnotherapist. Unfortunately Peter has passed away but his work and his spirit live on.
You can review his acclaimed self help - personal success development - mega-confidence building programs at www.incrediblechange.com, or you can call 775-425-5847 to order programs or speak with his protege, sports hypnotherapist Chris Cady
The unique, results guaranteed assurance Siegel attaches to each of his programs…continues to stand the test of time!