The Mental Side of the Game

I believe the most overlooked aspect of youth sports
is the mental side of the game.

I have a passion for all youth sports and this fueled my desire to get my advanced degree in Sports Psychology. I wanted to know what we can do to help our kids excel not just on the athletic field, but in their everyday life. Coaches spend 2-4 hours a day working kids out on the field, but don’t spend 10 minutes working the most important aspect of their game, the human mind. We need to train the mind like we do the rest of our body. How do you become a confident athlete? By practicing your sport, you become more proficient and therefore build confidence. Coaches should continually build their athletes’ confidence levels up with praise and positive corrective coaching. Positive coaching goes much farther than negative. It works the same way in the classroom. The athletic field or court is no different.

Anxiety is another major factor that hurts our kids athletic performances. Coaches can work on mental and somatic relaxation exercises with their kids to help them relax and perform their best. Anxiety creates tension, which causes muscle fatigue and limits athletic performance. Did you know that 60% of kids playing sports at the age of 12 are not playing when they are 16? Why is this? Well, why do kids play sports in the first place? Not to win, not for money, or scholarships, or for fame…Kids play sports because it’s fun! When it’s no longer fun, they no longer play. They don’t quit because they’re losing. They quit because coaches and parents are not keeping it fun. They place the emphasis on outcome performance rather than task performance! What I mean by this is, let’s judge our game on how we played, executed, avoided mental mistakes, etc., and not on the scoreboard. You can lose by one point to the best team in the state, and some parents or coaches would be upset even though the kids played a flawless game. That’s all you can ask of them.

Coach Butler
Junior High Athletic Director
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

2 thoughts on “The Mental Side of the Game”

  1. How lucky we are to have a coach like Coach Butler in our community!! I also read his interview on the HTEA web site and loved his answer to the question: “How do you feel about the importance of good grades for a student athlete? Gentleman, Scholar, Athlete in that order.” That says a lot about the person he is. We are truly blessed! Looking forward to our son moving to the upper school in a little more than a year 🙂

    1. Thank you for the feedback Mrs. Tomadakis! We are so proud of Coach Butler’s accomplishments as well as those of the athletes he coaches.

      We are also lucky to have you and your family in the HTEA community and we look forward to being a part of Michael’s continued growth and success!

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