Category Archives: Psychology

News and articles on the Psychological aspects of sport.

Emotions in sport – the highs and lows are both important!

German WC 2014 victory

It may sound completely bonkers but it has often been said that it is “valuable” for a team to lose the occasional match. What? Surely a team should try and win each and every match played! Any sensible and sensitive parent never enjoys it when their child’s team loses! What about having to deal with […]

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Fear of failure: What if your child loses?

Failure sign

In contemporary sport, whether professional- or school-level, there is an overwhelming focus on winning results, the applauding heroes, ‘man-of-the-match’ performances, try-saving tackles, victory celebrations long into the night and, as the saying goes, “No one remembers who came second.” While this may be true for some instances, almost everyone remembers the person who missed an […]

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Selecting appropriate role models for our children

Oscar Pistorius2

Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius….they all share common characteristics…athletes, elite athletes, world famous elite athletes…the cream of their respective sporting codes… An additional – and unfortunate characteristic of the aforementioned athletes (and many more before them and many more to come!) – concerns their fall from grace. Over and above the demands of overcoming […]

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Has school sport lost its way?

Winning - Sportmanship

Over the past couple of months a number of stories would lead one to believe that school sport has become more than just a game, but rather “win at all costs”. A girl’s primary school in Bloemfontein has introduced a parents’ code of ethics. Two of Durban’s biggest schools will not play first team sport […]

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How do I “temper” my over involvement?

Parents Lock out

I had an interesting conversation with a top South African Equestrian rider on our flight back from Cape Town a few weeks ago. He has had years of experience in coaching, training horses and competing at the top level himself. Our conversation turned to parenting and he made the comment that the ONLY common denominator […]

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U14s versus U18s – training at the right level

Youth Hockey

Progressing through High School there are two notable skill and physical challenges a young sportsman or woman face; the transition from Under 13 to Under 14 level and again from Under 16 to Open. In these two stages there is a huge leap in the physical and skill-related demands placed on younger athletes as they […]

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Dear Dad…..The Game Isn’t Fun Anymore

Baseball 1

The anonymous letter below from a boy to his father, shows the mature attitude of some children when faced with the negative interference of parents and/or coaches in team sports. This interference sometimes causes a child to abandon an activity that otherwise might lead him or her away from a life of inactivity, drug abuse, […]

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What to do when your child doesn’t make the team?

Hockey Team

Selection, especially when it is in the context of team sports, is likely one of the thorns in your side as a sports parent. The selection process is fraught with emotions for both athlete and parent. Making this worse is the continuous reports of unfair selection procedures or favouritism occurring in many sports and across […]

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My child is not in the team

Netball Team

The age old issue of selection to school sports teams is something that I believe will be around forever. But why? “Why”is the golden word, why do parents take selection of their children so seriously? Why do parents believe they have knowledge superior to that of the coach placed in charge? I want to dwell […]

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Dealing with your child’s perfectionism in the sports arena

Nadia Comaneci

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high standards for performance, accompanied by tendencies towards overly critical evaluations of one’s behaviour (Flett & Hewitt, 2002). Do you have a son or daughter who is a perfectionist? We are all well aware of how this characteristic plays out at school […]

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When anxiety gets out of hand

Heart ECG

We all remember the empty feeling in your stomach when the teacher was walking down the isle handing out that Mathematics exam paper. You hands were sweaty and you could not sit still, continually moving and shifting in your chair. You could not help think about what will happen if you can’t answer the questions […]

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To win requires mastery of skills

Roger Federer

Following on an earlier article, “Winning vs Learning: Which is more important” as well as the sentiments expressed in “Bigger playing fields”, this article tackles the importance of developing mastery of skills. The one thing we all seem to agree on is that the objective of sport is to win. What we don’t agree on […]

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Winning or learning: Which is more important?

gymnastics

I was at a judo practice the other day when I observed the following parent-child interaction in the beginners’ class: Two judo athletes (approximately 10 years old) were simulating a particular grab and throw technique on each other during a practice. Sitting close by were two fathers. One was fairly quiet and I could not […]

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My beautiful parents getting me to succeed

donne potgieter (2)

Donne Potgieter (30) is one of South Africa’s most successful female shotists and she attributes her success to the positive role that her parents and in particular her father played in her sporting life. Donne medalled at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 1998, while still at school….shot in both CWG finals in 2002, won individual […]

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Make the fairways and greens a joyous place for your child

Portrait of Young Golfer

I remember it as if it was yesterday. “Sir, could I ask you a question about the rules?” The question came from a nine-year-old with a face contorted with obvious shock and horror. The question, directed at a rules official at a youth golf tournament within earshot of yours truly, could have been about a […]

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Keeping children motivated in sports

at the gym

In the 2005 movie, “Kicking and Screaming,” Will Ferrell (Phil Weston) plays the son of Robert Duvall (Buck Weston), an overly competitive father with a ‘win-at-any-cost’ attitude. Phil is an adult survivor of Buck’s obsession with competition and winning and displays the scars to prove it. As a father and husband confidence and self-belief are […]

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Are Dads equipped to coach youth cricket?

Cricket Action

Every Saturday morning during the cricket season an army of volunteers go out to do duty in running junior (and even senior) club cricket. Without them, many teams and even clubs could not function. However, not all of these “helpers” are helping. Many are failing the players, teams and clubs that they represent due to […]

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Let’s get them motivated

at the gym

How does a teacher/school coach motivate kids who are disinterested in sport/physical activity to get involved? This is a hard one…..as one cannot force individuals to doing something that they don’t want to do as it can work against you in the long run….Sport is not necessarily enjoyed by every child and it is therefore […]

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Nurturing self confidence in the young athlete

dreamstime_s_172693 - confidence

I can vividly remember that I was confidently the best tree climber in the world when I was about 7 years old. If I could not get up into a tree it was because it was not possible, not because I could not do it! I remember a massive tree that separated our yard from […]

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Have your say – How should parents, coaches and players behave?

Code of Conduct

The relationship between parents, athletes/players and coaches is critical to the success of any sporting experience whether it is at a junior participation level or at the highest level of competition. We are often asked for advice on how to ensure that this relationship produces a positive experience for all stakeholders. We believe that communication […]

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Parental involvement and the effect on a child’s performance

Mentally tough swimmer

Case study: Johnny the swimmer I watched Johnny, a very talented 14 year old swimmer at a competition. Before Johnny competed I saw him going to the toilet at least 4 times. After his race I congratulated him but commented that I saw him going to the toilet a couple of times. He laughed and […]

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25 Practical Tips for Parents to Guide their Children’s Sporting Endeavours

Soccer on beach

As society has transformed over the past 30 years there have been significant paradigm shifts in physical activity and sport. On the one hand changing childhood behaviour patterns has resulted in decreasing physical activity levels whilst at the other end of the spectrum the increasing professionalism of sport has exacerbated the pressure placed on young […]

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A Prep School Sports Teacher Perspective

St Peters Runners

Mary Ann Dove in conversation with Grant Jansen, former Head of Sport at St. Peter’s Boys School, Johannesburg, South Africa. MD: What was the greatest challenge you faced as head of sport at a primary school? JG: As a teacher the natural thing for you to do is to help others and play a part […]

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How Can I Help My Child Develop Mental Toughness?

rowing

Young developing athletes are particularly prone to becoming casualties of the performance roller-coaster of competitive sport. They give up because they can’t handle playing well one day and poorly the next; or training hard and then not performing well on race day; rarely performing to potential when it counts; or falling victim to self-doubt, anger […]

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