It was probably in 2012 or 13, and it was the finals of a ‘B’ Division game between two of the best schools in Singapore. The stands were filled up with students, old boys and parents from both sides. While the behaviour of the students was exemplary throughout the game, the same could not be said for the adults.
Yup! Am talking about badly behaved sport parents and adults. This was one of the worse incidents that I have come across. I could hear adults shouting and yelling all sorts of instructions and expletives from the stands, jumping up to express their frustration and shouting to contest the referee’s decisions.
One parent absolutely took the cake! He actually tried to get closer to the field of play by pretending to be a photographer and started yelling at the player from the opposing team.
Why so much drama???? It’s literally only a game played by younglings!
While the last post’s discussion centred on adopting more of an autonomy-supportive style of coaching rather than a controlling one, this post’s focuses on the behaviour of parents and coaches. Here are some pointers to consider:
Today’s post focuses on the HOWs to help young athletes do their best without being overwhelmed by the pressures to win and to look good. Specifically, the focus is on how we can help young athletes build resilience in sport and life through a constructive Parent – Athlete relationship.
Its universal, young athletes seek approval from their parents, and parents, for the most part, have their children’s best interests in mind.
However, against the current climate where early specialization is the norm and Direct School Admission (DSA) often the main motivation, it’s easy for parents, coaches and young athletes to get overwhelmed by the competitiveness of youth sport.
Over the years as a PE teacher and later as a Sport & Psychology coach, I’ve observed how expectations placed on athletes by their parents have not only undermined their enjoyment but their confidence as well. As a result, many aspiring athletes suffer from performance anxiety, burnout and give up on sport altogether.
Make no mistake, parents have the best intentions but they may not know how best to help their children strive for success without undue pressure. I’ll attempt to share how we can address this challenge over 3 posts. The information will be organized into 12 related tips that are built on each other.
Two of the biggest influence on my approach to coaching – Process Focused Coaching, are Albert Ellis and Ken Ravizza. Both have passed on, and both were heavily influenced by the Stoic philosophy.
Ellis was described as a ‘Stoic Philosopher with a Sailor’s Mouth’. He was inspired by the writings of Stoic Philosophers to devise Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT was the first form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is still my preferred technique for athlete counseling.
According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is a dead ringer to the quote below by Epictetus (one of the three most important Stoic philosophers along with Marcus Aurelius and Seneca).
“It isn’t the events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.” – Epictetus
The question put to me by a friend was essentially – what can she do to ask her daughter’s primary school coach to be less harsh and loud?
The primary school softball team had started holiday training in preparation for next year. She observed that the coach tends to yell at the kids when they make mistakes, as a result they tend to be very tentative when they play. Her daughter tends to “freeze out” especially when it’s her turn to bat.
“When One teaches, Two learn.” This statement aptly sums up my experience conducting the ‘Coaching and The Growth Mindset’ workshop last week for Singapore Gymnastics. The coaches present were from culturally diverse backgrounds. There were coaches from Japan, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Singapore.
This group of coaches were particularly generous with their sharing (without going off tangent), and I learnt so much from them, especially when they related their experiences to the Talent-Effort Fallacy.
In the previous post, we discussed why praising athletes “shamelessly” might foster the Fixed Mindset. That does not mean we should hold back praises. Instead, we may want to be more deliberate in reinforcing the actual effort that leads to learning (rather than ability), and to mix up external praises with process based feedback.
The objective for this post is similar to the last one – to provide anyone in a coaching role (you could be a teacher or parent) with strategies that will help their athletes foster a mindset that pushes one to train consistently, cope with inevitable failures and to bounce back even stronger and better.