When you were growing up, I am sure you can remember that one person you played sports with just got under your skin.
It was a constant production or display that just managed to anger you as a teammate or even friend. Competition and youth participation in sports have certainly sky-rocketed in the last decade, and the number of kids feeding the “ego” card may have done just the same.
Who are these types of athletes I am referring to?
The youth athletes who are just oozing with confidence and love being showboats both on and off the field. The ones who maybe think they are too good to practice, yell at coaches or officials, and even boss other teammates around.
I used to make a joke back in the day about these types, and to my surprise, it actually turned out to have some merit. The athletes who are coddled and trash talking to others and even their elders often will end up in their parent’s basement by the time they are 20 with no future or career.
A tough reality, but no one wants to train with hotheads, arrogance, or temperamental issues.
They are indeed out there, and while there is nothing wrong with being confident and vocal on the playing field, there comes a fine line between what is right and what is wrong.
The scary problem stems from the parent’s side of things. From day one, all you want is your child to grow up with athleticism, skill, work ethic, and a desire to win. It’s widespread for parents to overlook the behavioral acts that hint at the “pre-madonna” type personality. Here are a few signs to look out for when deciding if your child or athlete has too much confidence or not.
Too Good To Practice
Practicing the sport is one thing that can never be overlooked, no matter how good your athlete might be. Just ask Lebron James or Patrick Mahomes if they excuse themselves from practicing. Yet, they are professionals. No matter how young or old they are, the desire to become better must be there.
If you ever hear complaining when it comes to practice, that is normal and can be something commonly discussed within many households; however, when they begin using phrases like “I’m already good at that,” or “I did that already,” then you may have deeper problems arising.
Your athletes should understand that practice is what makes them better. The belief that they may think they don’t need to and that they are already good enough is a sign that you should be aware of.
Your Action Plan
If you notice your athletes having this behavior towards practicing, the best solution is to sit them down and explain the battle that lies ahead with competition at the next level. Let them know life is all about working to be 1% better every day, regardless of where you are currently.
The second you take your gifts for granted is the day you give in to your abilities. You can most likely relate a story to them about your childhood and how you had to work much harder than they ever did to be half as talented. Then move them to a mindset of how talent is exemplified with hard work, but they are not mutually exclusive.
They talk back to coaches and other players.
Being vocal on the field is not a bad thing. It can show signs of leadership, passion, and care for an athlete’s team and sport.
However, talking over elders and mainly coaches is a sure sign that your athlete might be over the edge. Respect is one of the most important aspects of youth sports, and over the years, I’ve witnessed younger athletes get carried away with more and more. Where this problem often starts is when you notice them constantly complaining to officials.
Being one for 8 years helped me understand the working side of an official, and to be honest, they are there for the love and passion of the game. Not to be belittled by younger players and parents. Oftentimes, the players that talk back to the officials have inherited this behavior from their peers, so before jumping to conclusions about the development of your kids and athletes, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are setting the best example.
Regardless, talking back and arguing during games is a recipe for disaster for the individual and the team.
Your Action Plan
Take a solid look and where they might be developing these habits. If it is a parent, try to have a calm conversation about it and let them know how much their son/daughter looks up to you. Try to have the talk that leads more to their development rather than attacking them for their behavior.
If you notice your athlete having these behavioral signs, try sitting them down and talking to them personally about what it means to be a team leader and role model. Explain how negative emotions and actions can string down other’s confidence and that they should try positive encouragement to other players.
Additionally, if they have issues with the coaching staff, it needs to be discussed privately and not in a public setting.
They act as if they are better than everyone else.
Everyone wants to train and compete at high levels. That is perfectly fine and a normal part of a young athlete’s mind. Growing up, I wanted to play for the Chicago Bulls like Michael Jordan and be a star professional basketball player. Is this unrealistic? Yes, but where things tend to go wrong is in the developmental process, where they begin thinking they are better than everyone else.
Even as a successful business owner and trainer for over a decade, I still don’t think I am the best and know all there is to the industry. That thinking will get you nowhere and can be dangerous for your career. Just as a business owner always wants to learn, an athlete always wants to train and get better. They don’t put themselves over others, especially at younger ages. Everyone is capable of improving, so if your athlete seems to think they’ve hit their peak and limit where they begin taking shortcuts in practice, skipping team events, and excusing themselves from drills, then it can be a sign that you want to talk with them.
Your Action Plan
Please do not jump into the situation and reassure them that their behavior is tolerable. Again, you must sit them down and explain the meaning behind hard work and how thousands of kids would love to have their talent. With talent also needs to come work ethic to want to improve. Give them examples of professionals who work hard on and off the court. At a young age, professional athletes have a major impact on them and can be why they want to keep going. Maybe you had a role model growing up that made you want to be better?
Just remember, No matter what level you coach or train, if the athletes trust you with their feelings and emotions, then express them to you, you will achieve high-performance levels! Some who speak out and are constantly about themselves often have deep levels of emotional insecurity and desire to share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Still, they are terrified since we live in such a performance-driven world. So they often get scared of what would happen if other people see the truth inside their feelings.
As a mentor, coach, or parent, it is essential to aid in developing these athletes. Don’t for one second think that your actions go unrecognized by your athletes. To be a good role model, be able to know when it’s time to step in and give coaching and support that might not be based around the sport itself.
It can help prolong a successful, modest and humble career. If you need help coaching or making efforts to train or talk to your athletes, send me an email today at [email protected]