Raising Elite Competitors

Strategies to Help Your Athlete Stop Overthinking So She Can Play with Confidence

October 31, 2023 Coach Bre Season 2 Episode 165
Raising Elite Competitors
Strategies to Help Your Athlete Stop Overthinking So She Can Play with Confidence
Show Notes Transcript

Is your young athlete overthinking on the field? It’s a common challenge for many parents and their sports-loving kids. So, what can you do about it? Join us in this episode as we explore strategies to help young athletes conquer overthinking and regain their confidence!

In this podcast episode, we’ll cover:

  • Understanding Overthinking
  • Strategies to Help Your Athlete Stop Overthinking
  • Supporting Your Athlete: Your Role as a Parent

Join us in empowering your athlete to play with confidence, on and off the field! Listen to the full podcast for more insights.

Episode Highlights:

[00:06] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and gain confidence. Discover how parents can help their athletes overcome overthinking and build confidence.

[01:57] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and perform with confidence. Overthinking can consume athletes, leading to unproductive thoughts and hesitation in competition.

[04:51] Strategies to help athletes overcome overthinking. Discover strategies for athletes and parents to address overthinking include mental training, self-talk, visualization, and reframing the role of mistakes in athletic development.

[09:16] Mindfulness techniques for athletes to overcome overthinking. Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment, and athletes can practice this skill through techniques like deep breathing, grounding, and visualization.

[13:34] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and perform at their best. Parents can help athletes overcome overthinking by using mindfulness, visualization, and reassuring language.

Next Steps:

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Welcome back to the raising of the competitors podcast. I'm coach breed a mental performance coach for athletes, and I am so happy you're here. Whether you are a parent who is just getting going on this whole sports journey with your athlete, or you have a lot of seasons under your belt, this podcast is for you to help you know, how to help your athlete play with confidence and have the mental strength needed to navigate the ups and downs of her sport. And also so that you can enjoy this sports journey as well. So happy that. You're here. And today we get to talk about something that I hear a lot from parents. How can I help my athletes stop overthinking? They pick things apart, they can't stop ruminating over something that happened, or she overthinks to the point where she kind of paralyzes herself. And actually doesn't play well because she's thinking too much instead of just playing and going with the flow and trusting her training. So we're going to dive into all of that. Now, before we do, I want to give a shout out to a mom in our community. This is a mom who is inside the elite mental game, which is our signature mental training program for a girl athletes and their parents. So she is in it. Her athlete is in it. And this is what she texted us the other day. Her name is Dee. She said my biggest takeaway was how much we're confident my daughter was in her game on Friday night. And how she's getting back towards her typical self. And just one week, and she's getting more confident in school too, as she's always had test anxiety. She's using her visualization in many areas of her life and succeeding. And she's going from anxiety and fight or flight to loving and grateful. So excited for the journey that lies ahead. So I am super excited for your daughter as well. D. This is really cool to see, to see that she is coming back. You said. That you're seeing glimpses of her getting back to her typical self meaning that usually athletes start playing their sport because they like it. They enjoy it, they love it and they're in it. And they kind of have this reckless abandon when they first start playing. And it's all just fun because they're learning. And then somewhere along the way. Typically when the pressure starts to get on a little bit more competitiveness. There's some things that happen. And then athletes start to second guess themselves to start to have some of these anxious thoughts and feelings. This is all normal. And so it's very cool though, that now that your daughter. Just a week into the program has some strategies that she can use to not only help her in her sport to help her connect back with why she's playing and also to help her with some of these situations in school. So that's my mental training goes well beyond the sport. Yes, the sport is the vehicle, but these tools travel with athletes outside of their sport, into their social settings and into academics as well. So super happy and excited. Thank you for sharing that with us. Alright, one more thing before we get into today's episode. If you find this podcast helpful in any way to things that will help us out a lot. Number one, share this with other sports moms, and I'm sure that you have other parents who, you know, would also find this helpful. So just text this episode or one of the other ones that you have listened to that you found helpful to a parent. I'll tell you when my friends text me episodes, those are the ones I listened to. So that would be helpful for us also be helpful for the people that you're sharing it with. And also if you have a moment to rate and review the podcast, that helps out us a lot, so that we can continue to produce great content for you, and also get more guests on that you were interested in. So that would help us out a lot. Okay. Let's get into today's episode today. Like I said, all around strategies to help your athletes stop overthinking so that she can play with confidence. Now, what. Is overthinking. It might show up differently. Depending on how your athlete navigates this overthinking part of her. And typically what we see is that athletes are just consumed by unproductive thoughts. We call them unproductive because. Negative thoughts are normal, automatic negative thoughts just happen. It's actually your athlete's brains protective mechanism. It's very normal, very natural. Now we do want to redirect those thoughts because typically they're not productive. If she continues to ruminate on them. So overthinking is ruminating on thoughts that won't, you know, she just can't move on from, she's kind of stuck in this cycle of rumination about a thought or a scenario or an incident. Overthinking can also look like when she's literally in her competition, and she's almost freezing hesitating. She's not taking risks like she normally would. She's trying to think through like steps and she's not trusting herself. She's almost being paralyzed by this overthinking and it can be hard to watch because if she were to just trust herself, then she would likely perform a lot better. So let's talk first about what strategies we use for athletes inside our programs. When we are encountering this issue of overthinking and also what you can do from a parent perspective to help support your athlete if they are overthinking. So, first of all, And inside the elite mental game, we use mental training that targets the root of overthinking. Typically things like perfectionism self-talk fear, failure. Like all of these things. That are living underneath the surface of your athlete that are manifesting themselves, has overthinking. So for example, if your athlete struggles with perfectionism, Everything has to be perfect. She has to perform. A hundred percent and can't make any mistakes. If that is something that she has in her subconscious, something that she deals with. And to be honest, most girl athletes do then that is going to drive her behavior. So behavior is always a window into kind of what's going on underneath. So what she's doing this active overthinking. It's really just a window into typically something that's going on underneath the surface. So perfectionism could be one of those things. Overthinking can also be caused by this fear of failure. This is one of the number one things that we hear from athletes, from parents of athletes, that when athletes are going out there and they are afraid to make mistakes, they're afraid of what's going to happen either with their teammates are going to think of them with their coaches going to think of them. They don't wanna embarrass themselves. So they're trying to do everything that they can to prevent that situation prevent failure. And so, as a result, they are stuck in this overthinking. They're second guessing themselves. They're not trusting themselves. And so what we do is we target the root of that by helping athletes with their self-talk. We use visualization, mindfulness. We talk a lot about the purpose of mistakes and the role that mistakes play in athletic development. And shifting mindset around that. So there's a lot that kind of can be done when athletes are really committing to training their mental game. And if you really want to know how you can help support your athlete in this, we actually have a free training for sports parents, where we go into exactly how to strengthen your athlete. Daughter's mental game. That's at train her game.com. So definitely check that out. We talk about our proven method and how we really get to the root of that. So other things that are helpful with this overthinking is to ensure that your athlete is not getting a ton of cues. Okay. So typically when athletes are overthinking. What is not helpful is more coaching and more cues, like, think about this. Just think about that, that, that, and this, obviously, if you are not the coach of your athletes team, we talk about how, what your role is in that? And you are the parent, you are not the coach. So really a lot of that coaching should be just coming from. The coach themselves, but for you as a parent, make sure that you are not giving a ton of extra cues and a ton of extra pointers that just causes more and more overthinking in athletes because now they have. More to try and keep in their brain and more to try and like kind of Wade through, and it does not help with this whole concept of trying to get them into flow state. So flow state is where athletes are trusting themselves. They are making mistakes, they're playing the game, but they're not getting hung up by mistakes. They're moving on quickly. They're in it. They're keyed in it's like that state where, you know, time kind of disappears. It doesn't exist. And we want athletes to be in that space because when they are in flow state, they're not thinking about all the things, all the steps that they need to make and this and that calculating everything. They're just playing based on instinct and trusting what they have trained for. And so eliminating some of those extra cues can be really helpful. That's also helpful information, potentially, depending on your relationship with your athletes, coach, for your athletes coach, to know as a coach myself, I like knowing. What's helpful for my athletes, especially when it comes to competition. Some athletes like a lot of cues and it actually helps them. And for some athletes, they just need some reassurance like, Hey, you're good. You're okay. You got this. And not a ton of cues. And so having coaches who know your kid is such a blessing, and if you can. Help that in any way, depending on what your relationship is with your athletes, coach, that can be helpful as well. Now, some other strategies that we utilize inside our program for athletes to help with overthinking. Number one is mindfulness and maybe you have heard of mindfulness. I'm sure you have. It's becoming more well-known in the sports world, but mindfulness is really just the act of being in the present moment. And when we talk about being in flow state, that's where we want athletes to be. And so being able to practice that skill of mindfulness of recognizing my thoughts are going to a place that's not productive. I'm going to bring them back to my breath or bringing them back to a visual cue or bringing them back to a grounding technique that is mindfulness, and that helps athletes so much in their performance. And that's a skill that can be practiced outside of the actual moment. And that's what we teach athletes to do in the program as well is teach them mindfulness techniques. And then they are training that skill outside of the moment. And then when they're in the moment they have them to use. Also journaling. I know that, you know, athletes all fall on a spectrum of whether or not they enjoy journaling or not, but we do know it's a proven research-based method to help combat overthinking. So especially if your athlete is ruminating on thoughts of something that happened in the past. Having them just journal in our program. We have something called the 3, 2, 1 brave. The two stands for two minutes of free journaling or prompt and journaling. We also give them prompts and they just write. They just go, whatever comes to mind, this is such a useful way for them to process what is going on inside their body. Some other things, the skill of redirecting and reframing thoughts. This is a skill, not everyone knows how to do this. Some adults don't know how to do this, which is why it's so important that we are teaching these skills to athletes young. Because, athletes do not, people do not have to believe. You don't have to believe every single thought that comes into your head and athletes who don't know this. Tend to just kind of hang on to all of these thoughts that come into their head about this or that or wondering, and if they do that, I mean, we think over 50,000 thoughts a day. Then you can see where that can just kind of really go into a spiral very fast. And so being able to recognize like, this is not a productive thought, I'm going to take a deep breath. I'm going to say my reset word. I'm going to do my reset signal, which again are other skills that we teach that ground athletes. And I'm going to shift this thought into something more productive. And such a, an important skill to come back to the present moment. We also utilize visualization. So we have athletes visualize what they can control about situations. Sometimes overthinking can lead to a lot of anxiety because they're thinking about the future and they're worried about the outcome. They're worried about things that they actually can't control a hundred percent. And so we have athletes focused back on what can you control? And now let's visualize that let's put that into your brain. Program that into your subconscious. So that, that is what you are defaulting to. We also always ask athletes, okay, ask yourself, this is this something I can change right now. And so something I can change. And again, this helps with the overthinking that's happening outside of that moment of competition. Another useful strategy, naming the emotion, just literally naming an emotion recruits, the frontal cortex which helps with problem solving and helps athletes get back into the present moment. So we teach athletes that. All emotions are valid. All emotions are good. And being able to label a name, what emotion you're experiencing actually helps process that faster and helps reduce that overthinking. And this will all help when they get into that moment as well. So if you're seeing your athlete on the field or on the court or in their sport, Hesitating holding back when they start to practice these mindfulness strategies outside of their sport, when they start to face how their perfectionism is holding them back, when they know how to shift, self-talk when they can visualize themselves. Performing how they want to perform. Then when they get in the moment they have planned for that. So they feel more confident. And they have strategies to ground themselves, get them back to trusting themselves and playing. And flow state letting go of mistakes, trusting their instincts. And that all helps with not overthinking. It's a beautiful thing when that comes together. On the field. And it's a reality for lots and lots of athletes who know how to practice these mental skills. Now let's shift a little bit to how you can help your athlete. So those were all strategies that we help athletes with inside our program. this is how we go about overthinking. That's exactly what we do and how can you help support your athlete? So, first of all, Ensure she has these tools. We talk about how your role as a parent is to shape the environment and provide the opportunities. You can't be in your athlete's head all day, every day. And even if you could be, I'm not sure that that would be super helpful and you can't be out there with them on the court or the field in the heat of the competition. So the best thing that you can do is ensure that she has the skills. To know what to do when she's overthinking recognize when she's overthinking and get back to the present moment. And so ensuring she has those tools and again, that free training, train her game.com. That will teach you how you can ensure she is mentally strong and has these skills. Again, as I mentioned before, give her less cues. So if you are apt to trying. You know, give her a lot of reminders. I'm telling you right now, less is more in this situation. If you are her coach or you do play a coaching role. Something as simple as dialing it back to see ball hit ball. I know that sounds so, so simple, but less is more, more cues are going to overwhelm her. So just simplify it, keep it to a minimum. Also making sure that you have a pre-competition routine with your athlete that sets her up for success. So a lot of times we can project our. Anxi eties our worries, our own things onto our athletes before competition, because that happens, it's stressful for us in those situations. So being able to check yourself and then have a pre-competition routine with your athletes, so that she is feeling prepared. And what I mean by that, this is something that we also do inside the elite mental game. So athletes have their pre-competition routines. They need to get recognized first. What hype number they need to get to. So this is a number on a scale of one to 10. That helps them play their best. So they need to know like, Hey, I need to get to a six and we're going to play my best. And so they have strategies to get to a six or a, Hey, I need to be at a six and I'm at a nine right now. I need strategies to come down to a six. And that way they can feel confident knowing they're in the right place. Emotionally mentally in order to play their best. And then also parents. What we do is they actually create a custom routine so that they are saying, and doing the things that are supportive to their athletes. And even as simple as asking, Hey, what does support look like for you, from me before a match or a competition? Do you want me to give you space? Do you want me to make sure that you're set up with your favorite snack? You know, whatever you would like to do, you know, you can offer. But also having some go-to phrases that she can count on that just are things that are reassuring to her. Things like trust your training. got it. You've trained for this moment. You got this? I love you. You know, just very simple things that are reassuring her of her strengths and reassuring her of things that are inner her control and also reassuring her of your love for her. No matter what happens out there, win, lose, play. Well, not play well, all the things. All right, wrapping this up. I know we went over a lot. We went over a lot of strategies for athletes that we utilize to help with overthinking things like mindfulness, visualization, shifting self-talk. Journaling. Naming emotions asking, is this something I can change right now having grounding techniques to use in that moment? And then for you as her parent, ensuring that she has these tools to utilize. So make sure that you are setting her up for success. And then give her less cues less is more and have a pre-competition routine for her that supports her. Performance and sets her up to feel. I was about to say, I just feel really good, but feel prepared, you know, feeling good. Isn't actually, our goal athletes are going to feel good all the time, but helping them recognize that, Hey, even when I'm feeling nervous, This is actually my body telling me that I'm ready, nervousness and anxiousness and excitement and register is the same. They feel the same in your athlete's body. It's all how they label them. And you can help with that language shift as well. All right, moms. I hope that this was helpful. I will see you in the next episode of the raising elite competitors podcast.