Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, you have seen Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers unforgettable moment in NBA history. He hit an impressive buzzer-beater in Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder that had everybody amazed! When you want to talk about pressure, the average person couldn’t imagine the amount of pressure he felt in that moment or could they? According to Lillard, the average person experiences way more pressure than that moment could ever amount to.
He states “Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball.” “Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from.” “Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent.” “We get paid a lot of money to play a game,” “Don’t get me wrong ― there are challenges.” “But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.”
While Damian Lilllard’s statement is very true, it does bring to light how we raise our athletes to recognize pressure and deal with it appropriately. First, we start with assisting our athletes in understanding what pressure is. A simple definition can be, the feelings an athlete has about performing in a sporting situation. There are different levels to the feelings an athlete can have regarding his or her performance but, it's all about how they deal with it. No matter if it’s a little or huge amount of pressure your athlete is experiencing, there are four key things they should always implement when dealing with pressure.
Remember They Will Have Multiple Opportunities. While the pressure is on, it's easy for an athlete to think that they will never get that opportunity again. However, in most cases they could and they would. Remind them that in sports, opportunities will always be there. If they didn’t get a chance to take advantage of that one opportunity, another one is right around the corner.
Let Go Of Winning. Most athletes put pressure on themselves due to they are holding on to just winning the game. However, the most important aspect for an athlete to focus on is executing their role. Assist your athlete in understanding that winning takes a team not an individual, therefore putting all the pressure on themselves only increases their chances to lose. Encourage them to focus on what they can control, execute their role to the best of their ability and allow for others around them to share the responsibility.
Remember That They Belong. When athletes make mistakes under pressure, they feel their value on the team diminishes. However, its important to encourage your athlete in understanding that their role on the team will always have value because they were picked for a reason. Encourage them to understand that mistakes will happen, but their purpose on the team will always be needed.
Practice Tangible Strategies. When athletes are under pressure, sometimes they do not have strategies to utilize in the moment. Encourage them to make a list of three things they can do when they are in the moment. For example; practice breathing techniques, meditate on positive affirmations or find a focal point in the game to refocus their thoughts. These things will allow them to have resources in place to activate as soon as they are in high pressured situations.
Everyone handles pressure differently, attempting to assist your athlete in understanding how to recognize and handle it now, will only benefit them throughout their sports career. Start implementing these tools with your athletes now and you will begin to see changes that will make a huge difference in how they approach the game.
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It's never easy seeing our children lose a game. From the frustration, crying, pouting, even silent treatment, we sometimes feel like we loss the game just as much as they did. While its easy to overcompensate in comforting our little athletes by making excuses why they should have won, we sometimes overlook the importance of losing when it comes to sports.
Yes everyone loves a winner, its nothing like being number one but in reality, we all lose sometime in life whether we like it or not.
Just think about it... what are some of benefits of losing?
1. You learn from your mistakes.
2. It motivates you to work harder.
3. It gives you the opportunity to champion someone else.
These are all things that we must teach our little athletes so they can be the best they can be at their choice of sport.
As parents are kiddos look to us to find their way through tough situations and we have to be equipped to provide them the tools to help them through it. Here are three quick tips on how to assist your star athlete when he or she has loss a game.
Praise and Critique
Praise what your child did well in the game but also provide positive criticism on what they could improve on. Most parents are afraid to provide constructive criticism due to they feel they are kicking a child while their down, however, children receive criticism well if its delivered in a positive and healthy way. For example, telling a child "You sucked at defense and didn't try your best at all." This may not be the best way to tell your child about their performance. However, if you say " Man your shot was on point, you can also improve on your defense by putting your hands up more." This is a better approach to provide praise and critique.
Be The Example.
Show your athlete the importance of champion others. Let them see you
congratulate the opponent coaches and players. Let them see you make
conversation with the opponent fans. This will influence them to be more
aware of good sportsmanship and hopeful mimic the behavior in their own actions.
Validate Their Emotions.
Let them express themselves over a loss without judgment or criticism.
Losing hurts. It's not fun and it sucks. So if your athlete need to get off his or her chest some hurt and angry emotions, be that outlet for them to do so. Don't confuse anger with passion. Sometimes our little athlete can reach places of anger that can damage their reputation. It's great to allow your athlete to let their emotions out, but the key is handling their emotions in a healthy way.
Provide them with some quick and effective tools they can use when they feel like they are going over the edge. Fidget toys, breathing exercises, jumping jacks are all things used to help individuals deal with their anger, by introducing these different strategies to your athlete in the moment they need it the most, you can help them more ways than one!
Four Point Play provides a variety of services that are geared towards families to live healthy, positive and productive lifestyle. Click below on the following if you are interested in any of these services.
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Candice Lodree is a Professional Family Life Coach that is passionate about assisting families live healthy, productive and positive lives. As a wife of an athlete and raising little athletes, she enjoys providing helpful tips and resources to parents raising aspiring athletes.