Teach your little athletes these Olympic takeaways.
Part of the fun and magic of the Olympics is the emotions and intensity of the competition. These athletes from all over the world putting it all out there after a lifetime of preparation for the biggest competitive stage on our planet.
Dr. Tom Golightly , BYU Sports psychologist, says we can learn a lot from the Olympics. He provides five takeaways for the sports mom.
Olympic Takeaways for the Sports Mom
The ability to keep a focus on the long-term goals/values, engage life with a growth mindset notwithstanding even major setbacks. Lindsey Jacobelis, snow cross racer, is an excellent example of grit. This is her fifth Olympics, she finally got that gold medal after 16 years!!! Talk about sticking with it and being persistent with her effort – realizing that dream.
He also gives figure skater, Nathan Chen as another example of grit.
Differs from grit in that this skill involves managing the situational demands and stressors that present roadblocks and challenges. One of the most impactful stories of resilience involves another local athlete, speed skater Casey Dawson. Just couldn’t get the clearances he needed to fly after a positive COVID test, but once he got the go ahead, it was a get to China at all costs attitude. His resolve to get there and compete, not having been able to train and prepare how he wanted, was inspiring.
“Things aren’t always ideal, sometimes, you’ve got to show up and give it a go with what you brought that day. We can encourage our younger competitors to keep battling through difficulty, and figure out a way, even if the odds seem improbable. It isn’t always the outcomes that make us winners. The sheer love of competing and preparing for our opportunities the best we can oftentimes is the real win,” says Tom.
Sometimes, it isn’t our day
Mikaela Shiffrin, alpine skier, was an absolute warrior throughout this Olympic Games. There isn’t anyone that would define her as less than elite in her sport. She’s done it all, including win Olympic medals in the past. But sometimes, things don’t go our way. She’s talked about how hard that is emotionally, and tweeted about it. She gave the message of allowing for the feeling, but not letting it impact how you come back.
“As parents we can help them learn to manage the emotion and understand what it means. Hurt and frustration means that you care as a competitor. Upset isn’t always bad. However, it has to be temporary, and the setbacks don’t define our children as athletes. Encourage them to be determined to ‘punch back’ after being in that sad and angry spot for a while. It’s okay that disappointment stings for a while, we don’t want to try and take care of that too quickly, but by the next morning, it’s time to prepare for the next fight. And one loss, one bad day, one coach’s evaluation does not define us as an athlete. Move on with purpose, but give the emotion a bit of space – it can help in the long run” he says.
What’s the same?
Unfortunately, COVID is still impacting life in general, and the Olympic games. There are many things that are still different, but there are many things about competing that are the same. When our children seem to be impacted by differences, we can help re-direct them to focus on the things that are the same. Every arena and competition provides a bit different look and feel, but we can help manage nerves and uncertainty by encouraging them to find what’s the same.
Enjoy the wins!!
“With these medalists, it isn’t about avoiding losing, it’s about the accomplishment. Help our children enjoy the good, sometimes those moments are few and far between.”