How to Stop Practicing and Start Winning

Does your young athlete look like a star in practice, but choke up in competition? Do they have a tough time carrying your practice skills over to game time?

The number one reason athletes, coaches, and parents contact me is when athletes can't carry their hard-earned practice abilities over to game time, when the results actually count.

More: How Young Athletes Can Deal With Failure

Here's how to help young athletes trust their talent, and boost their performance when they need it the most.

The Heart of the Matter

Why do athletes tense up and lose trust in their skills when they compete? Athletes lose trust for many reasons. Here are a few:

? They worry too much about their competitors; intimidation
? They become too analytical about their performance; over control
? They are anxious or scared to lose; fear of failure
? They try too hard to perform perfectly in competition; perfectionism
? They can't transfer their hard-earned practice confidence to competition

More: How to Build Mental Toughness

All of these mental game no-no's lead to under-performance when it counts. The bottom line: your mind does not allow you the freedom to perform up to the capabilities you have shown in practice.

If your mind is getting in the way during competition, what's the solution?

Knowing is Half the Battle

The first step is to understand how you are sabotaging your game in competition.

Do you focus too much on proper or perfect form during a game? Do you try to be perfect when performing? Does your coach over-coach you right before game time and you try to do everything the coach says? Are you afraid to make mistakes?

Once you understand how you're getting in your own way, you can address it and make changes.

More: 3 Sports Psychology Tips for Parents

For example, many athletes I work with continue "training" when they compete. They're stuck in a "practice mindset" during competition. They worry more about how it looks and feels than performing well. If you or your athletes do this, you must learn to separate your practice from your performance.

Why is it important to trust your physical skills and abilities?

More: Young Athletes and Perfectionism

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About the Author

Dr. Patrick Cohn/Lisa Cohn

Award-winning parenting writer Lisa Cohn and youth sports psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. Pick up their free e-book, "Ten Tips to Improve Confidence and Success in Young Athletes."

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