#168 – 7 Secrets for Elite Teen Athletes Part 2

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

#2 Focusing On Things Outside of Your Control

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

#4 Blaming Others/Making Excuses

This goes hand in hand with everything that we’ve talked about so far.

Blaming others, making excuses, these are forms of overthinking.

It’s also focusing on something or someone outside of your control, and it’s focusing on someone else’s model.

Blaming and excuse making is one of the most disempowering thing that you can do as a teen athlete.

Actually it’s pretty disempowering to parents too!

Fortunately there’s an empowering opposite to blaming and excuse making and it’s called RESPONSIBILITY.

Taking responsibility is empowering because it gives you power over whatever your truly responsible for.

If you blame or make excuses, you avoid the power of responsibility and you give your power away.

If you missed a tackle or a pass or a shot, you can’t go back in time and undo it, but you can be responsible for addressing it and being better prepared in the future.

If you watch game film, watch it with an eye looking for opportunities for you to be responsible.

This is what separates elite athletes from average athletes.

Average athletes keep making the same mistakes over and over and never grow because they blame their actions on others or because they have excuses.

Elite athletes see their mistakes as opportunities for growth.

They own their mistakes and the responsibility to fix them.

#5 Taking Things Personal

I see this happening with teen athletes and also with parents.

When things happen to them that they don’t like, they take it personally and make it mean something negative about them.

This also happens when athletes have their sport wrapped up in their identity.

If you think that you’re cool, or good looking, or important and needed because of your sport, you run the risk of taking things personal.

The secret is, don’t take anything personal.

Even if you mess up and lose the game for your team, it’s not personal. It doesn’t mean anything about you as an individual and as a person.

When I hear athletes complaining that a coach or ref was picking on the, or just doesn’t like them, it says to me that they are taking things personally.

They’re interpreting their circumstances to mean something about them, and it’s not helpful.

The truth is, if you want to be an elite athlete, YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES!

There’s no way around it. Sports are designed to push your limits and to force mistakes.

So, don’t take things personally.

If you miss a tackle, don’t tell yourself something like, “I suck” or “I’m never going to be good enough.”

Instead, think things like, “At least I was in the game,” or “If I’m not in a position to mess up, I’m not in a position to win.”

In addition to this, your identity has very little to do with the sport you play and how well you play it.

Sure, there are connections, but your sport could be taken from you in an instant.

Your identity can never be taken away.

Sure, you might be a stud on the football field, but who do you want to be on a deeper level.

Understanding this will help you weather the storms that come with your sport and help you not take things personally.

#6 Doubting Yourself

Here are a couple of secrets that I think everyone, especially teen athletes, should know.

#1 Human beings are heard animals.

And, #2 humans are attracted to confident people.

So, what do these have to do with sports?

Good question.

As herd animals, human beings are really good at reading each others emotional state.

This helps us avoid danger and surround ourselves with others like us.

The problem is, without really knowing it, humans are really good at mirroring the emotional state of those around them.

If you’re not confident in yourself, your coach is likely to mirror that back to you.

If you doubt yourself, others around you will mirror that back to you.

And, people are naturally drawn to others who are confident.

If you doubt yourself, you’re basically repelling others, while attracting predictors, like bullies.

So, one of the most powerful things you can do is to have and develop confidence in yourself.

BE Confident!

I don’t mean that you fake it and be cocky.

I mean that you trust your ability to learn and acquire skills.

Trust that the only way to grow your athletic skills is to be pushed to your limit.

You’ll start to see mistakes and failure as simply part of the process.

Also, confidence is build upon success.

Want to be more confident, build more successes.

I recommend doing this during the off season in the weight room and in scrimmages.

These are opportunities to build little successes.

Going from a 225 lbs. bench to a 300 lbs. bench in the off season is a success that will give you confidence.

Developing new skills in scrimmages will boost your confidence.

Learning new aspects of your game will build your confidence.

#1 thing, given the option to play scared or confident, choose to be confident.

#7 Failing to Practice

Everyone knows that to be an elite athlete, you need to practice your sport.

The thing no one’s talking about is practicing BEING and elite athlete!

This goes beyond practicing a few hours a day, a few days a week, for a few months.

This is a way of life.

More than being a good football player, this is crafting the identity of being the best version of you possible.

So, when your in the most boring class ever, probably math, science or English, ask yourself, “What kind of a person do I want to be? If I were on the football field or basketball court, what kind of effort would I want to give?”

Most teen athletes are willing to work way harder in their favorite sport than they are in their least favorite class.

But, how you do one thing is how you do everything.

If you only give half effort in your math class because you think it’s boring, you’ll only give half effort when you think your sport or off season is boring.

It’s in the moment of being in a “boring” class that gives you an opportunity to practice BEING the athlete that you want to be.

And, if you find ways to turn little everyday moments into opportunities to practice, you’ll completely elevate your game.

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