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Are All Mistakes Bad?

Athletes often talk about mistakes as this terrible, awful, tragedies that define them as an athlete or their performance in a game/meet/match. But are mistakes that bad? Well that depends on how the athlete views mistakes. For some, they greet mistakes with extreme frustration (picture the golfer who throws the club, or baseball player who slams the bat). We see these reactions often in every sport. Those athletes are not only displaying questionable sportsmanship, but are doing more damage for the portion of their performance that remains. Once an athlete reaches this high level of frustration, they begin to perform tight and fearful of more mistakes, ultimately diminishing their overall performance drastically. However, mistakes can be positive for those athletes who chose to change their outlook slightly.

If a mistake occurs, an athlete should continue to focus on their performance, while staying in the present moment. Developing a 3 second memory becomes crucial for the athlete to keep pushing and maintain high levels of performance. Lets face it- mistakes happen- even to the best of athletes. But the best athletes use mistakes as motivators to push their performance to the next level - to challenge themselves to be great. Once the game/meet/match is over, the athlete should take some time to review their performance (perhaps after a few hours or a day so that the athlete has time to calm down and objectively reflect on their performance). The focus should be mostly on what they did well- by doing so, their confidence remains high and unaffected. However, some brief time should be spent assessing the mistakes they made. What caused the mistake? How did it happen? How can they be sure that the mistake will not happen again in the future?

Mistakes are feedback. They may not be the feedback the athlete prefers- ideally the athlete would receive feedback in practice, but none the less mistakes provide information about how the athlete mis-performed in a given situation. If the athlete is diligent about assessing his/her game time performance, they will be able to identify if there are deficits in their game that they can focus their training on in order to even out their game.

Change your outlook - Change your game!

Parents- For those reading who are parents of young children (especially those who are hard on themselves after making mistakes) there are ways in which you can help your child refocus their response to mistakes. By helping them when they are in need they will learn how to do so on their own in time. Remember a few of the important facts listed below.

  • Be sure not to be too critical of your child's performance. Give them an objective analysis of their performance- what they did well and what they can work on.

  • Avoid comparing your child to other players

  • Respect the child's possible need for time to cool off after their game

  • Do not let the child define themselves as a "bad" player as a result of a few mistakes. Redirect them to help them identify how to fix the mistake and use it as feedback to improve their overall performance.

Our Sports Psychologist at MVP Mentality specialize in athletes only, so our main focus is to help optimize your performance. If you or your child are suffereing through mistakes and damaging your performance, our sports psychologist can help! Call today and learn how we can help you morph into an MVP!

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