Back to Basics: 4 Ways Youth Athletes Can Increase Performance
By Michael Hiltzik
The following are four ways youth athletes can increase their performance. I believe these ideas will make them better players, but they’re not magic bullets. You’ll have to do what works best for your team. These are just suggestions, so don’t get discouraged if you disagree with any of my recommendations!
1) Play with Purpose
When you play with purpose, it’s easy to perform at your best. When you play without purpose, it’s hard to perform at all. If you want to improve your skills, then the first step is understanding why you need to practice those skills.
Why do you need to learn how to throw a baseball?
Because if someone throws one really far and catches it, that would be awesome! If you want to catch a ball thrown farther than where you stand, then you need to practice throwing it farther.
If you don’t understand why playing with purpose is important, then ask yourself why exactly do you feel like practicing without purpose isn’t necessary?
Then try to answer those questions.
What are some reasons why it might be beneficial for me not to practice? And when I think back on the last time I practiced without purpose, was it useful or helpful?
2) Focus on Your Game
Some youth players don’t practice effectively because they’re thinking about things that have nothing to do with their sport.
What kinds of things?
Well, let’s say you’re a pitcher who is sometimes late for practice because you like to spend time on your phone texting your friends and playing games. Instead of being on time, you show up late all the time.
How is this going to affect your pitching?
If you’re late all the time, then you miss valuable practice time. If you miss valuable practice time, then it’s harder for you to improve as a pitcher. This means it will be more challenging to succeed in your next game. If this is a habit, then you might not put your best effort into playing because you don’t really care about doing your best. Being on time and paying attention during practice is important and should be one of your top priorities as an athlete.
3) Have a Positive Attitude
It isn’t easy to stay focused and practice effectively when you have a bad attitude. You’ve probably heard of the phrase “attitude is everything”–this is often used in a positive way, but it can be used in a negative way too. For example, someone could say “my attitude is terrible right now, so I’m not going to practice or games until I feel better.” This is just an excuse and a poor one at that.
It’s better to have a bad attitude and still practice than to have a good attitude and sit on the sidelines.
Your performance isn’t determined by how you feel, it’s determined by what you do. So if you’re having a bad day or week or season, then it’s up to you to still perform your best. Sure, you won’t perform as well as you could if you had your best attitude, but you’ll still do better than if you didn’t show up at all.
Putting it into Action
Now that we’ve gone over the key points of this mental toughness article, let’s see how they can be applied in real life. Don’t just read about it–take some notes or write down ideas of how you can become a tougher athlete mentally.
For more help, check out the rest of our site. Our Mental Strength training program can help improve your mindset in and out of season. Browse through some of our mental toughness articles for more tips and techniques.
Athletes who want to take their game to the next level should read our article on how to be a Champion. This will help you set the right goals, as well as give you an idea of how to effectively reach them.
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy our article on How To Be A Great Teammate. Being a supportive and valuable member of any team is a great quality that coaches and teammates love to see!
Sources & references used in this article:
Back to Basics: Nitty-Gritty Suggestions on Managing Emotional Content by A Belger – psychologywod.com
Competitive engineering: Structural climate modifications to enhance youth athletes’ competitive experience by D Burton, AD Gillham… – … journal of sports …, 2011 – journals.sagepub.com
A qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness of a mental skills training program for youth athletes by LA Sharp, C Woodcock… – The Sport …, 2013 – journals.humankinetics.com
Doping: A Growing Problem for Youth Athletes? by J Goodes – breakingmuscle.com
BrandSimple: How the best brands keep it simple and succeed by AP Adamson – 2007 – books.google.com
Pure sport: Practical sport psychology by J Kremer, AP Moran – 2012 – books.google.com
SGA gets· back to basiCs by C SAMBUCHINO – 2002 – exhibit.xavier.edu
Playing the game: sports as a force for promoting improved academic performance for urban youth. by E DeMeulenaere – Journal of Cultural Diversity, 2010 – search.ebscohost.com