Darin Shapiro Kien Shapiro

Helping young athletes to focus on success by World Wakeboarding Champion Darin Shapiro

darin shapiro

Kien Shapiro Good times

There are several factors that can influence whether a young athlete lives up to his or her potential in sports. As sports parents, we often face a common challenge, our kids don’t play to the best of their abilities.
Kids can sometimes worry too much about whether their coach or parents approve of their performance.
Children can be obsessed with, ‘Am I doing the right things? Will I get approval from my peers? Will they like what I do? Will my parents like it?’”? Because kids can be very driven, they often assume their parents or coach expects a lot from them.
When young athletes worry so much about “doing the right thing,” they’re wrapped up in a failure-oriented approach to sports. They concentrate too much on avoiding mistakes. Rather than focusing so much on what they did or could do wrong, young athletes need to aim for success. Sports parents can help kids do this.
Parents can begin by talking to the child about what he or she worries about. Help the child pinpoint his or her fears. Does the child worry about being teased, or criticized? Point out that this is a failure-oriented approach to sports, and suggest that the athlete focuses more on success. It’s also helpful if parents give their kids permission to make mistakes. Let them know that messing up is part of the learning process and that it’s ok. Remind them that every successful rider has made lots of mistakes. But athletes who recover quickly, shake off the mistake and move on are most likely to build confidence and succeed. Focusing on improving one or two small skills at a time is a smart approach to skill building with minimal stress.
Parents should also help their child identify small goals that will help them aim for success. When a child or teen athlete focuses on such small goals and gets into the “Zen” of sports, he’s changing how he thinks while he rides. His mind is full of positive goals, rather than negative worries. Taking on small goals is a critical step toward becoming a success-oriented rider.
A goal oriented athlete has a better chance at enjoying their sport when they take on small challanges and embrace success, rather than avoiding failure.

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