Photo by Jag Photography

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Young athletes carry on an inner dialogue with themselves in sports. It reflects how they think about themselves. For example, they might tell themselves they’re too small, too slow, or not strong enough to be good athletes. Just after making a bad throw, they might tell themselves they are the worst on the team. After missing a pitch, they might tell themselves they’re the worst batter in the world. This pattern undermines kids’ confidence and success in sports. It makes it hard for them to reach their potential.

As parents and coaches, you can help your athletes change the way they think. Begin by identifying your athlete’s positive attributes. These could include:

  • Getting to practice on time
  • Working out every day
  • Making good throws
  • Playing a smart game
  • Being liked by the coach
  • Having natural talent

Then, get the athlete involved and follow these steps:

  1. Help your young athletes identify the “negative” things they tell themselves, and list these thoughts after games.
  2. Ask them to banish such thoughts from their minds by replacing them with positive self-talk such as “I am a great player, stay patient.”
  3. Ask them to list their positive qualities, and offer to add the list that they created. They should also list positive sports experiences. Let’s say your sports kid played with all his heart one day, and it felt really great. What did he do that allowed him to play so well?

Encourage your athletes to hold these positive thoughts and feelings in their mind while they’re performing, practicing or thinking about sports. When negative self-talk creeps into their mind, especially after mistakes, ask them to replace it with positive self-talk. They might say that they are physically fit, coachable, or possess some of the other positive qualities he identified.

REMEMBER: Be careful about what you say after a game or practice. Your child might adopt your negative statements as their own negative “internal chatter.” They need to keep the chatter positive!

North York Baseball Association is now registering players for our House League series, for boys and girls 7-16 years old. Learn more and register your player here.  If you are looking for a more intense and more dedicated level of play, you and your family may be interested in one of our rep/select traveling teams. There are a few teams still looking for players.

** Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn, co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent.
*** for the photo