Coaching, Sports, Uncategorized

Managing Anxiety in Youth Athletes

Anxiety is common in young adults, and many teenagers experience anxiety on a daily basis. The thought of keeping up with grades and dealing with peer pressure on a regular basis can be quite stressful. However, young adults who compete regularly in sports may find themselves more stressed out than those who do not compete.

It is common for young athletes to stress themselves out before competing in an event. Pre-competition anxiety can stem from a lot of different areas and can ultimately affect the way they perform in their games. Here are some techniques that your student athletes can practice to alleviate this anxiety, and ways to help them improve their focus when it comes time to compete.

Meditation

One of the best ways for teens to calm themselves down if they are experiencing anxiety before a big game is to practice meditation. This ancient technique has been scientifically proven to help people relax and re-focus their attention from negative thoughts to positive ones. Encourage your students to practice meditation before they play in a big game for optimal stress-relieving effects.

Face Your Fears

Young athletes oftentimes have irrational fears about competing. They fear losing and rejection is a common problem that many athletes will face. It is important as a coach to help them remove the fear that they experience from their minds to improve their focus. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to make your students face their fears. This means having them play as many games as possible in skirmishes to get them to become comfortable with the thought of losing. Remind them that losing is simply an opportunity to improve and that it should not always be seen as a negative thing. Changing perspectives is key to overcome anxiety and improve their confidence as an athlete.

Nearly everyone in society experiences anxiety at some point or another in their daily lives. While some may experience it more than others, it can be debilitating if it is not taken care of. Fortunately, these two techniques will help condition your students for greatness and shape their minds to resemble that of an all-star athlete. Understanding where anxiety comes from is key to ensuring that your young athlete faces the problem head-on and develops into a better person because of it.

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Coaching, Sports

Building a Team Identity

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Teamwork is the most important aspect of any team sport. After all, how is anyone expected to do anything by themselves against a larger group of athletes? It is an ingredient needed in any circumstance against any foe, and here is how to develop that championship teamwork instinct according to BetterBasketballCoaching.com:

Analyzing Personnel

What are the team’s strengths and weaknesses? Who is someone who can be relied on during important times? Are the role players ready to complete a difficult job if necessary? Knowing the squad inside and out will help determine the lineups and tactics against any other team. The biggest advantage of knowing everyone’s attributes in a team is the opportunity to mix and match depending on the opponent and situation.

Fundamentals

There are certain things people in leadership positions look for that cannot be compromised. A leader without a vision is no leader at all. Therefore, there are certain things that someone might take for granted, whether it be attitude or level of skill. Without that fundamental attribute or two, a player may not even make the final roster cuts. Some coaches may value players who hustle all the time regardless of skill level, which could be seen as a way to make the vision work. Some may want a certain type of attitude or skill level. Coaching preferences vary, but a good coach understands the basic skills needed for his or her team’s success.

Communication

A team who is afraid to speak up will never prosper. Perhaps someone sees a deficiency that others don’t; perhaps someone has a good idea. It is important to make people feel welcome and comfortable to have them speak up if they see something. Lines of communication have to be free and clear so that everyone knows what will be expected of them. Among these are playing styles, intelligence in how to play, among the game’s rules and how to take advantage, and much more.

Accountability

Everyone must do their fair share of work. Everyone has a responsibility. If people do not achieve their objectives and do not take responsibility, then this factor must be addressed. Communication again plays into this attribute, as everyone should know what is expected of them and when or why they did poorly. Player rotation also factors into this, as people’s skill levels may change throughout the course of time. This means that everyone needs to be ready to do perform as well as possible, whether that task is a big or a small one.

Coaching

Tough Losses and Bouncing Back in Youth Sports

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Playing sports is an excellent way of getting children involved in the community and learning new skills. Although the games may just be for fun, kids can often get upset when they lose to another team. Although there may be a few tough losses throughout the season, there are ways of helping kids bounce back from the physical and emotional defeat.

Set the Example as the Parent

Youth athletes will ultimately reflect the behavior of their parents and will model what you say and do when they win or lose. Instead of becoming negative and making winning a priority, focus more on the development of their skills rather than how well they perform in a game. If the child is enjoying the sport and is becoming more skilled throughout the process, then it is a successful season.

Create a Routine After the Game

Your post-game routine should remain consistent whether they win or lose to ensure that they understand that winning or losing isn’t as important as enjoying one’s self. Consider going out for celebratory pizza after each game despite the outcome, which can allow the athletes to have something to look forward to, and avoid focusing so much on how they performed on the court.

Offer Encouragement

Make encouragement a priority to ensure that the child understands what they did well during the game and feels better about themselves. Talk more about what they did well, whether they defended the goal or made a shot so that they feel praised and don’t allow their mood to be influenced by the outcome of the game. In the same regard, you can discuss what they can improve on in the future to allow them to continue to develop their skills.

Avoid Making Their Athletic Ability Their Identity

Many parents make the mistake of making their child’s athletic performance their identity, which can affect the child’s view of themselves, harming their self esteem and putting too much pressure on them during games. Remind them that failing is a part of life and that they are skilled athletes despite how well they may have performed in the game. Don’t place so much emphasis on how many points were scored or plays they made. Focus more on their characteristics and who they are as a person.

Coaching

Understanding Different Age Groups When Coaching

The job of a coach is simple: allow the players to learn the basic, fundamental aspects of the game while improving their individual weaknesses and capitalizing on their strengths. How the coach does that is up to them, but the process changes dramatically depending on the ages of the players they are coaching.

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7-10 Years

The game is still relatively new to children in this age bracket, so it’s important to focus on learning the basic techniques that a coach will be able to build on later. In basketball, for instance, the coach should focus on teaching correct shooting form, ball handling, passing, and defensive techniques. For baseball, coaches should focus on footwork on infield drills and batting stances. As the students progress through the ranks, they should still revisit these basic instructions periodically just to refresh their memory on how it should be played.

10-12 Years

Kids are more advanced by this stage, and will most likely have the basic skills necessary to play the game, no matter what it is. From here, coaches should emphasize more streamlined versions of their game, such as cuts and one-footed layups (in basketball) and directional bunting (for baseball). Also, strategic maneuvers and situational awareness should be implemented as well to allow the player to begin to see the game from a high-level position.

12-14 Years

Scrimmages are a great teaching tool at this stage to allow the students to get the most real-world experiences playing the game. Furthermore, the game should also be practiced at a quicker pace and under more direct pressure. When coaching basketball, teach the basics of screening and when to implement them, as well as different types of passes and coordinating plays in the face of a stiff defense. Never forget to revisit some of the more basic forms that the student learned in their earlier years, especially if their form begins to get sloppy.

The job of a coach is never done. There will always be something to build on and something to teach, so make sure that, as a coach, you are discerning in your approach to the player. Within these groups are individuals that will play either above or below their level, so it’s vital that you spend individualized time with them as well to maximize their efforts.

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.com

Basketball, Coaching

Leadership Lessons From the Great Phil Jackson

As one of the most well known coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson has solidified his legendary status through 13 total championships won as both a coach and player. Between the years of 1987 and 1998, Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls with NBA legend Michael Jordan, going on to win 6 total titles with this formidable team. Aside from Jordan, the Bulls boasted a number of legendary names under Jackson’s tenure like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and John Paxson.

In his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, he served as head coach to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’neal, and Derek Fisher; another team he would eventually win 5 total championships with. So, how was Jackson able to serve as a leader with so many talented (and somewhat ego-driven) players on his rosters?Michael Jordan

Confidence

Phil Jackson coached some of the greatest NBA players in the history of the sport. One enormous takeaway from this is that he was never intimidated or deterred by that fact. Rather than allowing them to lead the team and coach others, he showed them how to be even better. Great leaders are those who are not afraid to take on the toughest challenges and approach them with confidence. Jackson was able to build a successful supporting cast around players like Jordan and Bryant, allowing them to grow and play as a team.

Inspire

While his coaching tactics have been proven time and time again, Jackson allowed his players to believe in themselves and operate as a team without his supervision at times. As many basketball coaches understand, being too strict of a mentor will only lead to tension and miscommunication on the court. Allowing your players to perform how they want to from time to time builds a much stronger relationship between yourself and them. Jackson taught his teams how to effectively play for long periods of time without having the whistle blown, forcing them to work as a team. He inspired them to act as leaders themselves.

Develop a Culture

With both the Bulls and Lakers, Phil Jackson created a ‘winning culture’ in which his players expected to be great. In order to effectively build this mindset, Jackson had to strategize and encourage his players to believe in themselves, as well as him having to believe in them. He was able to focus more on the chemistry of the team rather than signing the best players in the world. He saw what formations meshed the best, and which were less effective on the court. Through this, he trusted his players to reach their fullest potentials, thus creating a healthy culture that expected to win games over and over.

Phil Jackson is a great example of a leader who bred leaders. His coaching abilities led to not only numerous championship titles, but to the enormous success of those who played under him.

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org