In 2011 as gasoline continues to hover around $4.00 per gallon we all spend a lot of time at the pump filling up our gas tanks. But did you know that your athlete has a very distinct and fragile emotional tank that needs to be constantly filled up as well?
Human beings and particularly athletes crave and need emotional support and the positive "can do" energy that flows from it. Why does the home team win such a high percentage of the time? College football or college basketball are great examples of how young athletes respond to the emotional support the home crowd gives them.
Your athlete is no different. Since she is still growing cognitively her emotions can keep her on a roller coaster ride from week to week. Fastpitch softball can further burden her with a heavy dose of adversity to overcome in the form of strikeouts, errors or mental mistakes. It is at this time that your athlete needs to have her emotional tank filled up. As adults, whether a coach or parent, when we choose focus on the mistakes (rather than the effort) and send young athletes negative energy their emotional tanks will start to deplete; causing them to make even more mistakes and derive less enjoyment from the game.
Encouragement and praise go a long way towards keeping your athlete's emotional tank needle on full. In coaching we call it the "sandwich method" of praise and constructive criticism: praise-correct-praise. Recent research by the Positive Coaching Alliance shows that a ratio of 5:1 praise to correction is a far better formula for ensuring an athlete's emotional tank remains full.
Youngsters are often unable or unwilling to share their emotions and feelings with adults so just because your athlete may not say anything to you about where her emotional tank level is at just know that your communication with her plays a huge role in how she feels about herself and her performance. So after a particularly tough game give her a little room and a little time before doling out any criticism, analysis or judgment you may be inclined to do. Remember the goal is always to keep your athlete's emotional tank overflowing.
Self-confidence, self-esteem and a healthy self-image all play an enormous role in the level of success and happiness your athlete will have on the athletic field and in life. Your being aware of filling versus depleting her emotional tank will go a long ways towards her becoming the very best player and person she can be!
For more helpful resources on filling her emotional tank and positive sports parent skills go to Positive Coaching Alliance.
To learn more about how your athlete can master the mental skills necessary to become the consistent peak performing player top coaches want visit us at Winner's Edge Softball.
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Just 10 more days until the release of John's latest book, How She Thinks is How She Plays and The Game Changer Program: A Mental Skills Blueprint to Make Her the Best She Can Be.