News from the world of mental training – TAG Mental preparation



In the first article, we described the qualities that, according to coaches, a successful player, athlete should have. But how to "work" towards them. Are you asking that too? So lets take a good look at it step by step.

What is the most important thing when building a house? The answer is solid, stable, reliable foundations. And that is why we will start our topic from the moment of building the foundations of a persons personality - from early childhood, because that is precisely the period when the foundations of self-confidence, self-worth, self-image, characteristics that are significantly important in sports life and career are formed.

A child is born with a certain genetic predisposition. It will affect, under ideal conditions and without negative external influences, how tall he will be, what color his eyes will be, his temperament and a number of other properties, abilities, and characteristics.

But the second most important variable that determines "what kind of child he will be" is the environment in which he grows up. The first years of life are very important, the child is like a sponge and literally absorbs everything from the environment. The primary source of learning is imitation. The child imitates and copies the behavior of those closest to him, takes on opinions uncritically. (A small child s thinking is non-critical, that means that without evaluation, without consideration, he takes on all the opinions of his surroundings, including regarding his own person, and internalizes them). This forms his self-image. 

So who are usually the people from the immediate surroundings that the child copies and who have the greatest influence on how things will "go" with him further? Yes, parents.Parents are the first people who shape us, later do other people enter this circle, such as a teacher or a coach. As I mentioned, they lay down the foundations of our personality through the feedback we receive from them about our personality. 

What do you think will be the impact on the child when he grows up in a welcoming environment, he will be encouraged to try, search, discover, be brave, he will be perceived as clever and successful, all of course in an appropriate measure or also on the part of the parents so that it is not about uncritically highlighting the child and putting him on a pedestal. And this compared to the opposite influence and negative feedback, the child is constantly shouted at, told that he is, for example, clumsy, incompetent, does not know anything, can not do anything, what effect will this have on his self-image, self-confidence, creativity, courage to try and thus for success in sports? 

The parent is therefore the first person on the scene at the beginning of a sports life and the primary creator of the environment. 

Lets summarize and emphasize at least a few recommendations, what kind of approach to the child is appropriate, in order to raise him to be a reasonably self-confident, creative, courageous person who can handle obstacles, challenges and, conversely, what to avoid. (I repeatedly give the word appropriately - it is good to have a feeling for the golden middle path, no extreme will lead to the desired results - not even humiliating, throwing the child down, insulting, eternal shouting, negativism, but also pampering, elevating the child above others, building inadequate self-esteem through uncritical praise and appreciating absolutely everything the child does.

1. Lead by example - I do what I want the child to do, I use learning by example and I am a model of the desired behavior for the child. What is my attitude towards life, what opinions do I present, optimistic, pessimistic, how do I react to challenges and mistakes, am I anxious, full of fears, how do I react to different situations and different people, how do I treat them... .

2. I build his courage and self-confidence - by not questioning or criticizing him, on the contrary, I let him discover the world, try, I give him adequate feedback - real but at the same time constructive, so that it does not remain only at point A - what happened but that point B was also passed - what can be done about it, how to solve it. Many times, parents have an exaggerated fear for their children and thereby make the children anxious. "Do not go there, you will fall, you will hit yourself, you will break your arm, it is dark, there will be a ghost" and many similar sentences. And then later they come up with the topic that their child is afraid to go into the room alone, does not want to sleep alone, is always with them, is afraid to try something, is not brave in sports, does not go into action, does not try, is afraid of injury, watches too much himself, he is constantly waiting for instructions, he does not trust himself. Parents, work with your fears, anxious thoughts and anxieties and do not pass them on to your children.

3. I develop his creativity - I do not dictate everything the child or impose only my opinions and procedures on him, I let him come up with solutions on his own, let him try and I am patient.

4. I build internal motivation - you ask, what should I build? As long as the child receives a reward for everything, as long as he is motivated by reward, profit, his external motivation is supported, which is fluctuating, dependent on conditions, rewards and therefore unstable. However, if I can make the child do something for the sake of the activity itself, because he enjoys it, he will then do it because he wants to, not because he has to or because he will get something in terms of a reward - money, a mobile phone, a trip or that he avoids punishment. Support the childs positive relationship to sports through joy and positive experiences, not through yelling and coercion.

5. Reaction to a mistake - how do you usually react when something fails? Do you take it as a personal failure? Does it bother you for a long time? Do you solve why it happened, why to you and so on?Realize that making mistakes is natural. Mistakes are not made only by those who do nothing. Without mistakes, we would not be moving anywhere. Doing mistakes is a part of learning. Have you tried to look at mistakes as a path to growth? Are you using their development potential? Making a mistake is not a failure, not winning a match is not the end of the world, it should be taken as a stimulus for further work, what this experience gave me, what I learned from it, how I should do things differently so that next time it leads to the desired result. And that is a prerequisite for growth.

6. Have realistic expectations and reasonable requirements for your children - respect their age and developmental level. For example - the smaller the child is, the shorter his attention span and that is why it is necessary to alternate activities. No, it is not bad if he can not sit for an hour and pay attention, he just can not do it yet. The smaller the child is, the more magical his thinking is – he is not lying to you, he thinks about the world like this, he is egocentric, he is going through a period of defiance, he can not regulate his expressions, emotions – he is spontaneous, authentic. Do not compare children with each other, each one is different, original, compare him with himself and appreciate his individual progress. Each has its own pace, which changes over time.

7. And one last advice, even though a lot could be written - since we are talking about raising an athlete - while they are small, let them play. A coach for young children who includes play and fun in training is a great coach who knows exactly what he is doing.What kind of training is this? They are playing? So what am I driving him here for? Am I paying to play? He can play at home... so I guess I heard these sentences regularly at trainings. Small children have a natural need to play. Through play, they learn, get to know the world, the rules, develop motor skills, social relationships are built during play, but most of all, play is an emotion, a positive emotion for children. And when we want children to develop internal motivation and positive attachment to sports, we need children to experience joy and positive emotions. Children store emotionally charged experiences in their memory, and as long as they are positive, we are on the right track. 

The education of an athlete is a process, a journey, and when you succeed in building solid foundations, he will follow that path more easily, with better handling of the pitfalls he will encounter along the way.