Girls Sports - Might your young athlete be trying TOO hard?

I’ll venture to bet that at some point, while watching a young kids’ sporting event or lesson, your attention has been drawn to one participant. Interestingly, this time it’s not because she is dominating or incredibly talented. Nor is it a behavioral problem or even a heroic effort. Rather this time it is because your heart is drawn to that one participant that is trying too hard.


Trying too hard and not succeeding.  She is red in the face, sweating profusely, frustrated and embarrassed. While our hearts go out to her, the coach may have to take her out of the game. Even if participating in a developmental clinic, it is an uncomfortable situation. She will be noticed for the wrong reasons.


There are a few common reasons that underlie this behavior. It could be factors such as peer or parental pressure to perform.  It could stem from a profound feeling of inferiority or the desire for attention. This behavior could even be the result of a perfectionist mentality or hard coaching style. Of course, it could be a combination as well.


Whatever the reasons though, this overboard effort is unhealthy and requires early recognition in order to prevent potential negative consequences. This athlete is suffering and needs help. Parents, coaches and/or instructors need to determine and understand the root(s) of the cause and work with her to find a fitting remedy.


If the pressure comes from the program or coach, finding another, more fitting to your athlete’s skills and/or mentality, may work well.  If the behavior is caused by a lack of confidence, is it possible to provide her with more opportunity for instruction and/or practice?  Assuming that her tension is a result of peer or parental pressure or even an extreme need for attention, quick fixes are more unlikely. These circumstances may require deeper intervention.


So I leave you with this thought: there is a fine line between giving your all – going 100% and putting heart into your efforts versus trying too hard. It is worth guarding against the latter and striving for the former, as we all work toward the healthy development of our young athletes.


As always, look forward to your thoughts and feedback.


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