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.
I was watching one of Feyman’s archived lectures that was screened during the exhibition – While explaining some sort of quantum concept, he sensed that the audience weren’t able to really grasp his explanation (neither did I) and remarked jokingly that they needn’t worry, he had many undergraduates who have spent four years with him and still did not understand Quantum Physics! He went on to share that not understanding doesn’t mean that learning hasn’t taken place, and what matters is that you are curious to want to find out more…
A friend serving as a student development officer at a Polytechnic was sharing with me how one of his sports team lost a good coach. The coach did not have her contract renewed because she could not produce a detailed enough training plan. In her place was a new coach who could write a very detailed periodized training plan, but apparently sucked at coaching.
Sadly, there seems to be quite a few administrators (who spend more time behind their lap tops rather than coaching) demanding unreasonable specifics from coaches.
“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.