Jane H. Scarrow’s Success Story Using Kids’ Sports Psychology
Here’s the letter Jane sent us via email–in her own words:
- What was your young athlete’s mental game challenge (or challenges)?
My son is a young golfer, his mental game challenge was that although strong on the driving range and often being told by his coach that he was a good player in tournaments he would just fall to pieces and play badly. He didn’t have the confidence to focus on his own game and play his best. He was a perfectionist that didn’t want to show himself up in front of others.
Looking around for ways to help him overcome his fear of competing I came across Dr Patrick Cohn’s Kids Sports Psychology website and was so impressed by the content of the free material available that I decided to sign up for annual membership.
- What Kids’ Sports Psychology resources did he or she use to address this challenge?
We used many of the resources on the website: audio podcasts (he couldn’t believe the description of palpitating heart and sweaty palms on the tee wasn’t written specifically about him), videos, ebooks etc but the resource that helped my son improve most were the worksheets.
We worked systematically through them in the following order:
*Mental games challenges checklist
*What is important and what’s not important Pregame mental toughness strategies
*Creating a confidence piggybank Boosting your trust in yourself
*Replacing expectations with process goals
*Performance goals and mental game goals Replacing frustrations with positive thoughts
*Coping with doubts Practice smarted not harder
*Two techniques that he took away from this that have helped him immeasurably are:
–> He drew a self confidence piggy bank which he keeps in the pocket with his tees so that he sees it each time he is going tee off.
–> Creating a ‘5 and a half point plan’ for his pre-shot routine. Look at the target – set up posture – practice swing – play a video of where want the ball to land – last glance – take shot.
- What were the mental game or performance improvements?
Following using resources from the Kids Sports Psychology website, especially the worksheets, my son became much calmer and more focused during competitions – he was able to ‘close the book’ and perform instead of worrying what other thought or what others were scoring. He is confident that he is a good golfer knowing if things don’t go well his good game is only ‘hidden’ not lost – that makes it a lot easier for him to keep going. He now looks forward to competitions.
- Did your athlete’s mental game changes improve his or her performance? Describe how.
Yes, as he was more relaxed my son’s performance improved markedly. He went from scoring 65 for a round of 9 short (100 m) holes and placing nowhere in the ‘little circuit’ golf tournaments that are held here in Andalusia in Southern Spain to his best round this last autumn of 37 when he won the regional heat (going on to win a second regional heat the following month) and placed 3rd in the overall Andalusian final. Of course his collection of trophies is growing and he is delighted. In addition, along the way he has won several of his club competitions and since May 2009 has lowered his handicap from 48 to 37 and is feeling confident that he can lower it further in the near future.
- What changes did you make as a parent or coach?
From the information I found on the Kids Sports Psychology website I really changed how I behave as a sports parent – I thought that I was helping my son with constant comments and corrections, but the information I read on the site made me realize that I needed to back off and let him get on with playing. If he wasn’t sure that I was trusting him to do well then how could he trust himself.
The checklists were the key resource for me, in particular:
How well do you support your child’s mental game Helping perfectionists perform freely.
I also use comments he made when we were filling in the worksheets to help him when he is training and I am caddying (In competitions I now watch off the first tee and then leave him to go round with his peers and concentrate rather than following round with him as I used to because I realized he was looking for my reaction to each shot rather than focusing in on his game). In particular the worksheet content I return to is from ‘what is important and what’s not important’ and ‘replacing frustrations with positive thoughts’.
In addition I had a couple of email exchanges with Dr Patrick Cohn about mental imagery when putting that proved very useful indeed.
Whilst I am sending this I really should take time to say thank you very much for your contribution to my son’s sports success – if we hadn’t found the Kids Sports Psychology website I am quite sure that he would not have the collection of trophies that he has – getting them has boosted his self esteem enormously. As an aside, we even use some of the techniques, with great results, for schoolwork too.
Very best regards,
Jane H. Scarrow mother of Louis Dinn