Developing A Healthy Sport Mindset

Published by Susan Zaro on

A common issue young athlete’s present as an obstacle in their sport performance is dreading  loss. Losses can be a hot point that locks a player into scaling back or limits them from  a growth mindset.  As a player moves up in age in their sport by natural selection they will compete against opponents as accomplished as themselves. In most sports a player that dominates at age ten will be competing against a much deeper field of competition at age  sixteen and above. If a child has a height or physical advantage at age ten that gives him/her an edge over opponents who haven’t physically developed yet, it will often be a less conspicuous advantage at the age of sixteen. 

Developing a healthy sport mindset involves guiding an athlete past the fear of loss and shifting their attention to growth and long term results. One aspect of this is to find an athlete the client admires and ask them what they know about what work was involved for the athlete to achieve their level of success. Not just the “wins” but the losses and time put into practices, training, and developing their athletic skill. It can be a surprise in these discussions how little information young athlete’s have about the real work, time, effort, energy, commitment, up’s and downs a successful athlete has experienced on their way to success. 

Most athlete’s benefit from an awareness of these ingredients that go into developing a healthy mindset. Athletes who acquire a growth mental mind set recognize that great athlete’s only reach their potential through years of dedicated practice and competitive experience. It isn’t all victories and glories, it is a process of trials, errors, successes along the way.  Athlete’s that invest in a growth mindset become more resilient when facing setbacks which is part of any athlete’s career. When an athlete is disappointed by an result not going as planned that moment can be painful and raise self doubts about their future performances. Having tools to move through mental/physical setbacks and stay motivated to keep an eye on larger future goals increases the chances of arriving at their goals.  

Quotes from a few athlete’s that embraced a growth mindset:

“What people tend to forget is the journey that I had getting to Formula One. There were plenty of years where I had to learn about losing and having bad races.” ~Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 Racing

Formula 1 car: Photo credit: Rezk Assaf

“If you are unwilling to leave some place you’ve outgrown, you will never reach your full potential. To be the best, you have to constantly be challenging yourself, raising the bar, pushing the limits of what you can do. Don’t stand still, leap forward. ~Ronda Rousey, American Professional Wrestler

Female wrestlers: Photo credit: Duren Williams

“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits. ~Michael Phelps, Swimming

Competitive swimming: Photo credit: Emily Rose

“I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” ~Simone Biles, Gymnast.

Gymnastics: Photo credit: Tima Miroshnichenko

“I always try to start out with some type of goal. Then I work backwards and think of what I need to do to get there, and give myself smaller goals that are more immediate.” ~Kristi Yamaguchi, Skater

Young skaters: Photo credit: Pavel Danilyuk