//Definitions Of Success

Definitions Of Success

Often, we define success based on outcomes. Success tends to mean scoring points or goals. Getting a hit. Winning the game. When we talk to young athletes about their competitions based on this framework, questions tend to sound like this: Did your team win? Did you get any hits? How many points did you score?

But is this the best way to frame competition for young athletes?

Not only is it not the best way, but it may also be the worst. Professional and highly competitive athletes tend to list outcome-oriented thinking as a major cause of disruptive cognition, interfering with optimal performance. Getting stuck in thoughts about outcomes while performing prevents elite athletes from achieving their best. High-level athletes want to be in a state where they are not doing much thinking. Their focus should be on what they can control and their process. Some simple and short motivating self-talk phrases may be useful, such as “you got this” or “eye on the ball.” Cognition relation to outcome, and orienting success based on outcomes, will only interfere with an athlete’s process. Of course, as athletes get older and competition becomes more serious, the outcome is important. It becomes critical to acknowledge the reality of outcome success. But that reality must be put in context with developmental goals and teaching process, especially for preadolescent and adolescent athletes. If you, as the caring adult or coach of young athletes, make process and development more important than outcome your players will too.

Let’s change the way we talk to our young athletes. If you’re a parent or family member, don’t ask about outcomes – ask about the process. Ask about development. What are you working on out there? Did you improve from last game? Did you have fun? Mindful conversations from the surrounding core (family, friends, coaches) of young athletes have a major impact on the way they see themselves and see the game.

By |2019-03-01T19:57:52+00:00January 22nd, 2019|Mindfulness + Sports|1 Comment

About the Author:

Sam is the Director of Mindful-Sports. He’s coached children ages 3-18, run youth sports programs, and managed summer camps in New York City for fifteen years. Sam grew up in Manhattan, playing baseball for Stuyvesant High School. He played college baseball for Swarthmore, and professionally in Europe and Australia. Sam holds an MA in Psychology and is completing his Ph.D., researching how mindfulness practice affects stress perception in preadolescent children playing competitive sports.

One Comment

  1. Tim Williamson March 2, 2019 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Last summer, 13 members of a Thai soccer team were trapped by rising water in an underground cave for weeks. 12 of them were youngsters, but fortunately, the 13th was their coach. That coach used mindfulness exercises to help the young boys deal with the life threatening challenge they were facing. He showed them how to overcome their fears. All 13 were rescued in an heroic effort and the poise of the youngsters was part of the reason the rescue was a success. Their coach had something to do with that. Sam Faeder is like that coach – he has a presence in teaching youngsters to use all of the tools at their command, to use a still mind as a platform for an active body.

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