Some of the most common problems with athletes

If you have a teen athlete, this podcast is for you and for them.

If you don’t have a teen athlete, you can still listen because these principles are true in parenting as well.

Every year I coach a handful of elite athletes who want to take their game to the next level.

Often times, these are athletes who used to play at a high level, but for some reason, they’ve started struggling and falling behind.

Other times, these are athletes who struggle to manage their emotions when things go wrong on the field or court, and they throw fits, put their head down and sulk, or stop trying or executing at a high level.

I’m going to share 7 secrets that might be holding your teen back in their sport.

If I were to work with your teen, I’d help them identify ONE THING to start working on.

Don’t try to tackle every single one all at once.

And, if you’re a teen listening to this episode, it’s probably because you care about your sport, and you want to improve. That’s an awesome spot to start!

#1 Overthinking in Sports

There’s a current trend in high school sports where coaches talk about wanting “Smart Athletes,” who can think in games.

I get it.

I also want smart athletes who can think and problem solve, but there’s got to be the right balance.

If you try to think too much and over analyze yourself and your opponent, you will slow yourself down.

When I talk to coaches and athletes, if they talk about being too slow, or being late, or a step behind, these are usually indicators that you’re over thinking.

Thinking in sports slows you down.

There’s definitely a time and a place for thinking.

Thinking is very important in sports, but OVERTHINKING will slow you down and hold you back!

There are some things that I help teens do to help them get out of their heads and stop overthinking that might help you too.

  • Identify when it’s appropriate to think in your sport.
    • With my football players, I always talk about making pre-snap reads and decisions. There’s a few seconds before the snap that the team can think, communicate, and make decisions, but once the ball is snapped, I don’t want them thinking, I want them focused and springing into action.
  • Identify times where you are more likely to overthink.
    • Maybe it’s at the free throw line, or during the last few minutes or seconds of a game. Maybe it’s right after, or right before, you got beat by your opponent.
  • Practice being In The Flow
    • The best athletes don’t over think. They get in the flow. They’re focused on their job, they execute their job, thinking is minimal and they react instinctually, lightning fast.

#2 Focusing On Things Outside of Your Control

In every sports there are things that are controllable and uncontrollable.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an athlete is focusing on the uncontrollable things.

If arguing with a ref, you’re probably focusing on an uncontrollable.

If you’re beating yourself up for a missed block, shot, field goal, tackle, anything in the past, you’re focusing on an uncontrollable.

These are part of the game and part of life.

You will always have a choice to be made in sports and in life as to where you place your attention.

If you focus on things outside of your control, the uncontrollables, you will not be able to focus on the things within your control, the controllables.

This is a skill that I want you to practice well before you get into a game, and then continue practicing during games.

One of the exercises I have my teen clients do is to usually before or after a game is to come up with a T-Chart of Control.

This is simply a t-chart where you identify things from the game that you can control on the left side and things that you can’t control on the right side.

On the left, you might list things like:

  • My effort
  • My discipline
  • My attitude
  • My execution

On the right, you might list things like:

  • The refs
  • The crowd
  • The other team
  • Your team mates
  • Your coach
  • The past
    • This one is HUGE! You can’t go back in time and change the past. If you’re dwelling on the past, you’re over thinking and your focusing on an uncontrollable.

This is one of the most effective ways to up your game as a teen athlete, BUT it takes some work and some sacrifices.

If you, your parents, your coaches, or your team mates are complaining about the refs, things in the past, anything that’s an uncontrollable, you’re focusing on things outside of your control and your need to start practicing the skill of shifting your attention NOW! Leave the conversation.

#3 Trying to Manage OTHER’S Models Instead of Your Own

This one takes a little bit of background knowledge, and it’s a little deep, so hopefully I don’t lose you.

If I do, just ask your mom to help you get this.

I teach a tool called the Self-Coaching Model.

This is a tool to help you be aware of how you think, feel, and act, and how that creates your results.

To quickly break the model down, it’s made up of 5 components:

  • Circumstances
    • These are factual, often out of your control, neutral things.
  • Thoughts
    • This is how your interpret your circumstances.
  • Feelings
    • This is how you feel about your circumstances. Your feelings are created by your thoughts.
  • Actions
    • Our feelings drive our actions and behaviors. These are the things that we do.
  • Results
    • The results that we get in life or in a game are created by our actions, feelings, and thoughts.

I teach people how to manage their own models.

And, one of the biggest mistakes I see teen athletes make, and parents of teens too, is trying to control somebody else’s model.

This means that your trying to control how an other person thinks, feels, acts, and the results that they create.

The problem with this is that you CAN’T control someone else’s model, and if you try, you’re NOT controlling your own model.

Where I see this in sports is when players try to manage their coaches model, or sometimes a teammate or a referee.

If you’re worried about what you coach thinks or feels about you, you’re giving away your power.

If you’re worried about a “bad” call from a referee, and your arguing with them, you’re trying to manage the action line of their model.

This will take away from your power to manage your own model.

It’s not your job to make your coach like you.

It’s not your job to make your coach happy.

If you try, you will not be YOU.

As an athlete, you need to focus on you and your model and doing your job.

Come Back Next week to hear about the rest of the the Secrets!

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