If your son / daughter is considered a high level young athlete then the chances are they have enjoyed more than their fair share of success en route. They’re likely to have won a few competitions as a junior, which in turn have gotten them noticed. Out performing their peers has been key in giving them their ‘high performer’ status. Therefore, it can be very difficult to get young athletes not to focus on results. Here we discuss the importance of focussing junior athletes upon the process of self improvement rather than the weekly competitive result.
How did you get on this week?
When we see a young athlete for training we will always ask how the week has gone. More often than not the response we get centres around win/loss or placings. We get a results based response. Many young athletes will judge performances based upon the result or the outcome. Therefore winning or losing plays a big part in how they perceive their progress. The results based focus can be detrimental to progress though in the long run, because of our limited ability to control results.
We always then follow up by asking about performance, regardless of the result. This gets the young athlete to focus upon the things that they did, rather than the performance of others. It requires them to think about behaviours and actions rather than outcomes. To a large extent, young performers are on control of their performance, but not the result.
Young athlete control the controllable
As a coach of elite junior athletes its important to focus them upon the difference between winning and ‘performing to win’. A winning focus is purely judged upon the outcome. Young athletes cannot control the outcome. The result of any competition is influenced by the interaction of factors such as:
Quality and performance of opponent
Umpires and referee’s
Young athletes must understand that these factors are outside of their control. Therefore, the most effective strategy is to focus upon individual performance, as this is more within their control.