3 Ways for Parents to Teach Athletes Resilience

Coming back from adversity is the hallmark of mental toughness. Parents, not coaches, have the most influence over young players as to whether or not they will fall victim to defeatism or will bounce back from difficulty stronger than before.

Mental Toughness Trainer Craig Sigl provides the following tips on how parents can teach their child to be resilient in terms of their athletic experience by modeling their own behavior:

1.  Never, ever show or express your disappointment to your kid when he makes a mistake in a game or practice.

There should be no hint of your disapproval of how he did anything on the field. Leave that to the coaches. Your job as a parent is to assist him to rebuild his confidence. Period. The only time a parent should be offering any guidance as to how the child can play better is when the child tells you he is interested in your opinion.

2.  Make it a theme of your family’s values that failure is OK.

It's important for parents to use words to the effect of: “Ok, no problem, what can we learn from this and how are we a better person now because of it?” a parent is training their athlete for mental toughness by properly managing things around the house and family. One suggestion is to print out various quotes from pro athletes about failure. Post the quotes on the refrigerator or somewhere where it will be seen.

3.  Teach the child the proper adult perspective for when coaches are yelling at players.

Everyone’s emotions get easily triggered by events on the field. It's not rare to see and hear coaches and parents admonishing young athletes by using a negative voice tone and choice of words. Parents have to counter that. As a parent, you should explain to your child why adults do this. And more important, you want to teach them how to translate the coach’s (or even your) angry messages so that it's always helping them and that the anger is just showing how important it is for the adult to help the player.

Sigl says that resilience breeds fearlessness, which then opens the door to confidence.  Sigl says this transformation occurs more easily among athletes if parents are consistent in their teachings, both at games and at home.


This article orginally appeared on USA Football.com.  Click here to read the full article, or go to the USA Football website.