Sep 27

The Mental Game Training

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I have introduced mental training to athletes as early as 6-8 years of age, no matter the sport, as I coached several throughout my entire career. It has been my philosophy that children are never too young to learn about mental pictures (metaphors), focus, concentration, and emotional control in preparation for competition or anything else (like exams, school work, etc.). I find it ludicrous that suddenly at the age of 13-14 years, coaches expect them to possess mental techniques (by what process – osmosis?). As a former elite athlete, I know that in the end – all things equal – the toughest mind and the one in control of emotions wins! BUT…. that has to be developed and trained like any physical or technical skill!


I receive weekly emails from Youth Sports Tips, and this article speaks to the importance of the topic.




Mentally strong athletes—those who have done some mental game training—don’t balk after making mistakes.


They don’t call themselves negative names. And they’re often great team players because they’re so positive.


Truth is, however, that sports kids resist mental training, and miss out on these and other important benefits.


Why? Because they hold onto myths about mental training that don’t really make sense.


Let’s look at two of these myths.


Kids often say they’re already mentally tough, and therefore don’t need mental training.


Truth is, everyone can benefit from mental training. Even if they are mentally tough, they can work on their mental game and make it even better!


Kids say they think mental training involves a psychologist who sits them on a couch and analyzes all their deep-seated problems.


This is a funny stereotype, and is not true. Kids need to understand that mental training means working with an expert who can help them boost their skills.


It’s no different than working with an expert to improve other skills—like boosting their physical game, for example.


Let’s get back to the benefits of mental training. Above we mention that kids who have done mental training are less likely to balk when they make mistakes.


This is a critical skill that boosts kids’ confidence and helps them play intuitively and freely—critical traits for young athletes!


Want to learn more about how to explain to kids the benefits of mental training?


At Youth Sports Psychology, we’ve got a great resource for our exclusive members, “Helping Young Athletes Embrace Mental Training.” It explains common myths about mental training and how to talk to kids about the benefits of mental training in sports.


Our exclusive members can download it immediately here:

How Kids Can Embrace Mental Training


The Ultimate Sports Parent by Peak Performance Sports

Instilling Confidence and Success in Sports



888-742-7225 | 407-909-1700


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