Encouraging a Highly Competitive Athlete
An athlete is an athlete, but a highly competitive athlete is a force to reckon with. Rough practices, mental blocks, and even worse, a stunt that didn’t stick or poor placement in a competition; out comes that competitive spirit. I’ve had my bouts with the three athletes I’m rearing. In the beginning you just don’t know what to say right? When they were younger there was tears. Now that they’re older I just get the silent treatment. What do you do? Well here’s a few things I learned along the way.
Choosing words wisely was the first lesson I learned. There’s power in the tongue; words can either make or break a child
I know it sounds cliché but it’s the truth. Telling my child “you are one of the best players on the team” certainly didn’t work. It caused my athlete to feel animosity toward the rest of the team. Changing that on the next child and saying, “you were awesome” didn’t quite work either. However, after talking with a great coach about these moments I’ve learned to simply say “I’m proud of the way you…” Doesn’t matter what it is, in cheer it could be the way they smiled, it could be fighting through a drop, whatever it is, celebrate that, but choose the words wisely.
Being competitive is not a bad thing but being overly competitive can be a bit too much and even foster poor sportsmanship.
Focus on the positives after a competition. “I know your team didn’t place where they wanted but you all certainly improved on those jumps. What do you think you could do different?” This way you’re not avoiding talking about the failure, just redirecting their focus to the positive and pushing them toward solutions.