Using Sports Psychology With Youth Athletes
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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.
“Coaching my daughters' teams (ages 6-13) I have started using what you might broadly categorize as 'Sports Psychology.' I have been pleasantly surprised - and occasionally blown away - by the quality of the outcomes. Question is, how much sports psychology is OK, and at what ages? Also, can you refer me to specific books, websites, and other resources?”
PCA Response By Eric Eisendrath, Former PCA Lead Trainer
Yogi Berra was right when he famously said, "90% of the game is half mental," so it makes sense to focus on the psychological aspects of the game.
Sport Psychology has gradually been working its way into the youth sports mainstream because it has a lot to offer youth athletes (and coaches!). PCA's research-based approach to coaching, especially our ELM Tree of Mastery (E for Effort, L for Learning, M for bouncing back from Mistakes) comes directly from sport psychology research.
PCA Founder Jim Thompson describes how he used visualization with his high school basketball players in his memoir, Shooting in the Dark: Tales of Coaching and Leadership, available here. Jim found out that his players initially were unsure how to react to his use of visualization but he persevered through the "giggly" stage. Ultimately, his players came to believe it was instrumental in their winning their league title and asked him for more.
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