The psychlogy of sport is fascinating, and a topic on which we only know the tip of the iceberg. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are topics that, even when researched and speculated about heavily, it seems that there is infinitely more to discover about the brain and how it operates. Perhaps even more fasinating than studying how people think and react to stimului is studying how children think and react. As adults, we often think we have children’s thought process figured out, maybe becuase we believe we are more advanced, or because we once were in that state. However, the results of extensive research, supplemented by anecdotal studies and experiences might surprise us when it comes to the mind of a child, especially a young athlete.

Related Articles:
Reviewing Daily Protein Recommendations
Benefits Of Mindset Messages
Do you lead or are you lead?

When asked the question, “What do you think young athletes dread the most?” the average person will likely respond “losing,” as it is common for the young mind to not be able to process loss, and they tend to handle such experiences poorly. Others may assume that not achieving their goals, or never quite making it to the highest tier of their sport would be what a young athlete is most afraid. None of these are correct responses, however; even losing did not come up on the list when youth athletes were asked “What is the most intimidating part, or worst aspect, of playing your sport?” The majority of kids responded to this question with “the car ride home.” Not losing. Not pressure. Not even failing. But being stuck in a closed space with mom, dad, coach, grandparent, or whoever it may be, is what a child dreads the most about their sporting experience.

While this may come as a surprise to many parents and coaches, they are collectively the cause of this response from children. A young mind that has just finished a competetive experience (i.e. sporting event), win or lose, needs time to mentally recover and should not be bombarded with questions, positive, negative, or inquisatory. It is interesting that the response from these young athletes was virtually the same to two vastly different experiences – winning or losing. If parents (or whoever is driving the athlete home) are the ones stressing kids out, and this could be minimized by limiting postgame interaction, you would think that more parents would stop bombarding their kids with questions immediately after their sporting event.

The solution is a simple one, and hopefully one that many parents and coaches fo young athletes will put into practice more often. 5 simple words that every kid (or athlete of any level) needs to hear from parents and coaches regualrly are “I love watching you play.” These words take away the expectation of winning, the disappointment of loss, or even the need to communicate one’s feeling after an intense game that was successful. “I love watching you play” simply communicates that the parent is proud of his or her child, and this phrase will build more confidence in young athletes than any question or statement that requires a response.

Witness Coach Taylor sharing his passion on this topic in the video below.

Learning what has worked for others is always invaluable. Seeing it first hand is priceless. Learn from incredible professionals from around the country at the professional development clinics and our annual conference on

Be sure to take advantage of the offer from Use code STTSUPZ when you check out today!

Please remember to order your STT shirts now from Proceeds from the Fight Strong and Sara Strong shirts will be anonymously donated to cancer research and a Lyme Disease Center respectively.

Thank you to all of our sponsors! Rogers Athletic, Iron Grip, Pit Shark, VersaClimber, Recovery Pump, Elite Form, Eleiko, Human Kinetics, Fat Gripz, Lock Jaw Collars, Hand Armor Liquid Chalk, Sunniva Super Coffee, and the many others that have all been supportive throughout our journey. Please connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.