It’s a common stereotype: every parent thinks their child is perfect. While objective onlookers can see that children – and people in general – have flaws, it’s not unusual for parents to consistently see the best in their kids. But what do the kids themselves think, namely when it comes to athletic performance?
Even at a young age, many children with a commitment to athletics also make a commitment to perfection. They want to perform well and yield results that are 100 percent positive, 100 percent of the time. While it’s admirable for athletes to strive for these results, perfectionistic thinking can sometimes hinder performance.
Having a lot of passion for the game is imperative to long term success in sports. So is having a plan to leverage all that passion.
Perfectionists tend to share many of the same qualities: positive and negative. Many perfectionistic athletes are:
- High achievers – They set and work to achieve big goals.
- Conscientious – They are detailed in everything they do.
- Strivers – They are not procrastinators: leaving things undone is too uncomfortable.
- Strong work ethic – They are strongly committed and work hard.
- Passionate – They love the game of soccer!
All great characteristics, right? Unfortunately, perfectionists can also be:
- Easily frustrated by mistakes.
- Notorious for putting enormous pressure on themselves.
- Often focused on what went wrong versus what went right.
- Triggered by a performance that is not up to standard on the field, bringing out negative emotions.
- Hard-pressed to calm down and get back in control once triggered.
Finding the most effective way to maximize the positive and minimize the negative characteristics of perfectionistic athletes can improve overall performance, rather than leaving athletes to focus on the mistakes they’ve made or worry about repeating those mistakes in the future.
Managing this way of thinking can also reduce the frequency and severity of negative reactions to inevitable mistakes on the field.
An awareness of a player’s self-talk is the first step to overcoming perfectionistic thinking – and this concept is explored in great depth in our eight lesson Mental Mastery Online program for youth athletes. Proper mental training is often the missing piece in comprehensive youth sports training and can be the extra edge needed for a child to obtain a college scholarship.