How to Help Young Athletes Learn From Mistakes

From the baseball field to the tennis court, mistakes are a natural part of sports. Whether your kid drops the game-winning pass, double-faults their serve at match point, or misses a short putt on the final hole, mistakes will happen.

As parents, we can't prevent our kids from making mistakes, but we can teach them how to deal with their disappointments and learn from their experiences. With mistakes and adversity, some negative emotions will naturally occur. But often these emotions can cause athletes to stay stuck in a past performance, which can undermine their confidence.

More: How Young Athletes Can Deal With Failure

Teach your kids that there are two ways to react to mistakes. The first option is to get upset, frustrated and angry that you lost the match or did not perform up to your ability, and carry these negative feeling with you for hours after competition.

This choice, clearly not the best option, causes athletes to lose confidence, and potentially motivation for practice and training. An individual's self-esteem is linked to his or her success and failure as an athlete.

The second way to react is with confidence and composure by focusing on what went well, and using mistakes as motivation to improve. This option is the better choice because it allows athletes to stay positive and think more about improvement.

Parents and coaches should recognize and accept that young athletes will never be perfect or have a flawless performance. The best competitors in the world know this. They work very hard to be the best, but accept that mistakes are inevitable in sports.

More: Four Tips for Young Basketball Players

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About the Author

Dr. Patrick Cohn/Lisa Cohn

Award-winning parenting writer Lisa Cohn and youth sports psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. Pick up their free e-book, "Ten Tips to Improve Confidence and Success in Young Athletes."

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