Distorted thinking is a common occurrence for young people...particularly a teenager! At this age, though she may think differently and tell you so, a teenager does not yet have the life experiences with which to make sound judgments on many things, especially about herself.
As a young athlete playing a game as difficult as fastpitch softball engaging in distorted thinking can be a huge detriment in her mastery of the game. Why? Distorted thinking can impact your athlete's self-confidence through excessive expectations or even perfectionism. Distorted thinking ignores the evidence that softball is a game built on adversity and nobody who has ever played the game has been perfect.
Distorted thinking also shows up in what I call "catastrophizing;" expecting the worst and categorically judging herself as "never" being able to successfully perform a specific task, whether in the present or the future.
Rock solid self-confidence is the foundation every athlete must possess in order to success on a consistent basis. Distorted thinking can erode an athlete's self-confidence in a nano second if not recognized and overcome.
Distorted thinking might sound like this: "I'm not pretty," "I'm fat," "I'm not good at math," or "I'll never be a good hitter." This is not only distorted thinking but it is absolute thinking as well. If your athlete is playing the roles of judge and jury on herself she may be severely limiting her potential by continuing this type of wrong thinking.
The most damaging effect of distorted thinking is that it can cascade into all areas of her life, including the classroom, as such negative, judgmental thinking will lead to more of the same. On the athletic field her failures become more frequent and her love for the game may vanish. As she starts to expect failure her reality becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
As a parent or coach it becomes your responsibility to catch your athlete's distorted thinking from the perspective only an adult can have (at least most adults!) to insure her success and joy in playing the game.
To learn more about distorted thinking, managing expectations, building rock solid self-confidence and overcoming fear and anxiety check out John's new Game Changer Program: A Mental Skills Blueprint for Making Her the Best She Can Be.
Only two more days until John's new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays is released!
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