Kirsten Peterson Ph.D, USOC Sport Psychologist, Coaching and Sport Sciences Division .
I stay calm when kids make mistakes, helping them learn from their mistakes.
The key to positive coach support is the art of interacting with a child after a mistake has been made. Ideally, youth sports offer kids great lessons in life:
„h it's OK to make a mistake
„h mistakes are inevitable
„h mistakes are stepping stones for learning
When a youngster makes a mistake in a sport, one of two things can occur: 1) the youngster can learn from the mistake and try to improve the next time; or 2) the youngster can become preoccupied with the fear of making another mistake.
If a coach stays calm and tries to instruct the child, there's a chance that the child will see the mistake as an opportunity to learn. If the coach stays calm there's a chance that the kid will stay calm, focus on the mistake and learn from it.
Unfortunately, as human beings, we often tend to have more animation in our reactions to negatives than in our reactions to positives. So it takes an extra effort on our part as coaches to remind ourselves to do all in our power to try to stay calm when mistakes occur.
I have reasonable and realistic expectations .
A major frustration for kids, in sports or in life, is trying to live up to expectations of adults in their lives. At times, youngsters have a strong need for adult approval. If they don't get it, due to unrealistic expectations from adults, it can be a major source of low self-worth. Since a coach often plays a major role in the life of a youngster, it is important to keep expectations reasonable. A good coach's skill expectations are based on the knowledge that all youngsters in youth sports:
„h vary in their development of physical coordination skills
„h go through plateaus in their skill development
„h have growth spurts which can affect their coordination
A good coach's motivation expectations are based on the awareness that there are three levels of motivation for kids in youth sports:
„h some kids, especially the entry-level youngsters, are playing because their parents enrolled them
„h many youngster are playing because it's a social event allowing them to be with their friends
„h a smaller group of youngsters, beginning at about age 11 or 12, are playing because they enjoy sports for sports' sake
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