Sport Parenting Tips from a Non-Parent (2 of 3)

Thanks for the many responses to the previous post.

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.

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How to Coach like a Greek Philosopher

Has anyone heard of Stoicism?


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

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So You Think You’re Special?



“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.

What is The Talent-Effort Fallacy?

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Effort, Support & Learning

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.

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Why ‘Good Job’ is not good enough…

Ever came across “positive” coaches who praise athletes for almost anything they do? I vividly remembered a rollerblading coach who was constantly praising kids even when they performed the drills incorrectly. There was this one kid who told her that he needed to leave early and her reply was “Good Job! Go ahead”.

How is leaving early deserving of praise I wondered…

“Why Good Job is not Good enough…” 

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Ground Fantasies in Reality

This is somewhat a continuation from the previous post where I ended with the question “Does that mean we should not set big goals and dream big?”

Conventional self-help literature teaches us that we can achieve anything by just thinking positively, and if we are going to think ahead, we might as well think positive and think big!

We are often taught to ignore the cynics, get rid of negative thinking, and to “Dream the Impossible”. Friends or associates who offer pragmatic advice are often labelled as “dream killers” or “haters”.

“The substituting of a kind of ”positive hypnotism” for a previous habit of “negative hypnotism” may appear at least to have short-range benefits, but I have always found that the honeymoon ends all too soon.” – Tim Gallwey, creator of The Inner Game

Ironically, from my experience working with athletes and numerous research studies, “positive thinking” is one of the main culprits that often hinders the progress and potential of athletes.

What the Science Tells us…

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“Just take the shot!” Sounds simple, except when it isn’t.

Decided to write this post to share how I would help a player develop a pre-shot routine, as I was reflecting on the time spent over the past couple of weeks reviewing the pre-throw routines of my Goalball players, and helping the boys at Raffles Rugby with their pre-kick and throw routines.

“A pre-routine should be customized to suit the athlete’s sport, personal preference and dominant learning style.”

Most coaches recognize the importance of pre-shot routines (especially for self-paced sports), but not many know how best to help their athletes develop one, especially one that integrates mental strategies. Before we go into the step-by steps, do follow this link to learn about what pre-shot routines are, and why they are important…


I make use of a somewhat contrived sounding acronym – PRE-FA (Prepare -> Rehearse -> Focus -> Allow) to facilitate the teaching of pre-shot routine.

Continue reading ““Just take the shot!” Sounds simple, except when it isn’t.”