Monday, February 21, 2011

Boys' Vs. Girls' Sports Anxiety Treatments

My daughter, who plays club soccer, needs some help overcoming performance anxiety. She sometimes panics in games and doesn't trust her skills. She has a tendency to pass the ball too quickly when she gets control of it instead of dribbling it up the field. I spent some time on line looking up techniques for overcoming sports performance anxiety and came up with two distinct schools of thought.

The most common one, best exemplified by this article on WebMD, recommends you banish all negative thought.
  • Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you feeling good.
  • Don't focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on the positive. Visualize your success.
  • Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.
Another school of thought, whose example link I lost, suggested that you get your teammates all around you to laugh and jeer while you learn to block it out. That sounds like it's guaranteed to fail for most girls.

I've been blessed to manage both my son's Little League teams and my daughter's school soccer teams. Boys and girls react very, very different to criticism and mocking. You can do it in small doses with boys, and practically never with girls. As I read through the articles on the web, I was surprised that they didn't break down their recommendations by sex. Another casualty of politically correct thinking, I suppose. Oh well.

Expert Village hits the nail right on the head in this video on coaching girls' soccer.

1 comment:

Dean said...

KT, I have coached boys hoops teams 6 or 7 different times. I don't think I could ever coach a girls team. I wouldn't know how to correct/critique when/if they screwed up in practice or the game.

Maybe things are different as they get older. Geno Auriemo (sp?) of UConn seems like a real SOB and he's only the greatest women's college basketball coach of all-time.