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Boost your kids’ athletic mental game. Help them come out stronger from 4 common scenarios

The mental game is just as important as the physical game.

Sports for kids aren’t just about learning new skills or making friends – they also come with the pressure to perform. The mental aspect of athletics often goes unnoticed.

Mental performance coach at RJ Performance Group, Jon Osborn, shares how parents can make an impact on their child’s sports experience, making it both enjoyable and successful.

Find more advice at, or on Instagram, @RJPerformanceGroup.


How to Help Your Kids Boost Their Mental Game

Jon sheds light on the significance of mental toughness. He emphasizes that while physical skills are vital, every sport involves a mental dimension that can give athletes a competitive edge. When everyone reaches a level where their physical abilities are relatively matched, honing mental skills becomes a game-changer.

Parents have an incredible influence on their child’s sports journey. In Jon’s view, parents are superheroes to their kids, and this trust has a profound impact on how young athletes navigate challenges. Parents play an essential role in shaping a child’s response to adversity. Jon shares some scenarios parents might face with their young athletes.

Scenario 1: Dealing with Limited Playing Time

A coach not granting sufficient playing time is challenging for both parents and kids. Jon recommends steering clear of belittling the coach, as it undermines trust. Instead, he suggests praising the child’s efforts and strengths, emphasizing the importance of trust and process over results.

Scenario 2: Resisting Practice and Games

When a child suddenly shows resistance to practice or games, parents need to address their level of commitment. Jon advocates for teaching kids the value of commitment, even when motivation wavers. This nurtures resilience and dedication, important qualities for both sports and life.

Scenario 3: Overcoming Halfhearted Efforts

Observing a child giving less than their best can be challenging. Rather than providing immediate solutions, Jon advises letting kids problem-solve independently. Afterward, when emotions have subsided, parents and kids can have an open-ended discussion to understand the child’s perspective.

Scenario 4: Dealing with a Bad Game

After a poor game performance, kids might internalize negative feelings about their abilities. Jon encourages parents to emphasize that this moment is just a draft in their journey. Focusing on progress rather than perfection helps children develop a growth mindset and perseverance.

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