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A Guide for Parents & Coaches on Helping Athletes Respond to Mistakes

As a parent or coach of an athlete, it's important to understand the impact that mistakes can have on a young athlete's psyche. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of sports, but how an athlete responds to those mistakes can truly make the difference in their athletic development.

In order to help your athletes develop a growth mindset and a "next play" mentality after making a mistake, we've put together a few tangible action steps that you can take as a parent or coach.

Normalize Mistakes

It's important to remind your athletes that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Encourage them to see mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning rather than as failures.

For example, if your athlete misses a shot during a basketball game, you could say something like, "That's okay; we'll get the next one. Let's focus on our defense now." This helps them understand that making mistakes is normal and that they have the power to move on and refocus.

Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is the internal dialogue that we have with ourselves. It's important to help your athletes develop positive self-talk habits, especially when they make mistakes. Encourage them to use phrases like "I can do this or "I'll get it next time."

For example, if your athlete misses a goal during a soccer game, you could say, "It's okay; we'll get another chance. You've got this." This helps them develop a positive mindset and encourages them to keep pushing forward.

Foster a Supportive Team Culture

Teammates can be a huge source of support for each other, especially when mistakes happen. Encourage your athletes to support each other when mistakes happen and to encourage each other to keep pushing forward.

For example, if one of your athletes misses a pass during a game, you could encourage their teammates to say things like, "That's okay, we'll get it next time," or "Keep your head up; we'll; we'll; we; let'sneed you out there." This helps foster a culture of support and helps athletes feel like they're not alone when mistakes happen.

Use Mistakes as Teaching Opportunities

Mistakes can be valuable teaching opportunities for both athletes and coaches. Take the time to review mistakes with your athletes and help them understand what went wrong and how they can improve next time.

For example, if your athlete misses a serve during a tennis match, you could take the time to review the mechanics of their serve and help them identify areas for improvement. This helps them understand that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow.

Model a Growth Mindset

As a parent or coach, it's important to model a growth mindset for your athletes. This means showing them that you're willing to learn from mistakes and that you're always striving to improve.

For example, if you make a mistake during a practice or game, you could say something like, "I messed that up; let's try it again." This helps show your athletes that making mistakes is a normal part of the process and that it's important to keep pushing forward.

In conclusion, helping athletes develop a growth mindset and a "next play" mentality after making a mistake takes time and effort, but it's worth it in the end. By normalizing mistakes, encouraging positive self-talk, fostering a supportive team culture, using mistakes as teaching opportunities, and modeling a growth mindset, you can help your athletes develop the skills they need to become successful athletes and individuals.

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