The Wrong Approach
In this week’s Mental Monday, Ben Askren discusses parents and coaches giving technical advice to their kid or athlete immediately following a performance on the mat. Recently, Askren was coaching a wrestler who was in a close match. The wrestler didn’t give up, battled and was able to get a takedown and win the match. Askren was proud that he was able to pull off the win, gave a high-five and some words of praise. The father took another approach with his son. He immediately began pointing out what the wrestler had done wrong and he should do next time. Askren strongly disagrees with this method of coaching. Technical advice can wait for later in the night, the next day or next practice. There is no use for it at that moment.
Bringing Down Morale
Some wrestlers want to know what they did wrong following a loss as soon as they step off the mat. In Askren’s experience, these young wrestlers that can handle critique and ask for it are few and far between. In order to put this in perspective, Askren frames the situation so parents and coaches can better relate. Think about something you had to do that was really hard to accomplish but you were able to get it done. You felt proud of yourself because you completed something that was not easy. After you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, imagine someone starts telling you all the things you could have done better. You’re in an emotional state of excitement because you just overcame adversity and figured out a way to get it done. Then, someone’s in your ear as soon as you’ve done so, telling you what you did wrong.
It’ll Come With Time
Askren understands this fundamental truth and utilizes it at Askren Wrestling Academy (AWA). If coaches and parents can keep athletes interested and excited about the sport of wrestling this will keep them in the sport. The longer they stay in the sport excited and learning the better wrestler they’ll become. Young athletes will develop technical knowledge, moves, and confidence because of their own internal motivation and determination. This is why we see a surge in athletes performances later in their careers. Recognize that youth sports are not exclusively about winning. Success is defined in terms of performance and effort, not just outcomes. Next time you’re coaching remember how it would feel if after you completed a hard task and someone told you ten things you could have done better the second you finished it. Apply those same principles to whomever you’re coaching and they’ll thank you later.
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