Sports Psychology: How To Build Self-Confidence In A Young Athlete

Athletes of all ages are always looking for ways to be more confident, focused and relaxed when they compete in their respective sport or sports.

There are many techniques which can be helpful to them including visualization, positive self talk, meditation, guided imagery, prayer, self-hypnosis and hypnosis.

Young athletes frequently become anxious prior to the first game of the season, a playoff game or a championship game.

Some competitors find it hard to stay calm, focused and relaxed when they are being watch by a scout or a recruiter.

Some maturing athletes get anxious as they move on to the next level of competition.

That is, a high school player may be uneasy in his first college game.

Similarly, a minor league baseball player may be very nervous the first time he plays in a major league contest.

Many athletes learn to overcome this anxiety simply by playing in a lot of events. Competing frequently on a regular basis helps them to sort out what they need to do and change in order to “enter the zone” and perform to their fullest potential.

Recently, a twelve year old very talented tennis player came to this author’s office as she was quite anxious about an upcoming national tennis tournament.

She expressed worries over the level of competition, the size of the crowd, the importance of the event and the travel associated with this tournament.

She was also very concerned about performing poorly and disappointing her parents.

To help her to relax, several strategies were suggested and implemented.

First, she decided it would be best if her parents did not watch her play.

Second, she utilized music prior to stepping on the court to fine her energy and her rhythm.

Third, and perhaps most important, she needed to develop some perspective on the importance of this event.

Since her goal is to be a professional tennis player, this author told her that there is “no reason to be nervous.”

She was reminded that on her journey to being a professional tennis player, she will play in hundreds of tournaments. This reminder made it easy for her to have some perspective on this “upcoming big event.” And this advice helped her to reduce the intensity and the meaning that she was assigning to this tournament.

The patient noted, “I never looked at it that way before. This sure makes a lot of sense.”

Investing in Sports Cards

Investing in sports cards can be both fun and profitable. Everyone enjoys some form of sports and there is a collector in all of us. People have an affinity for searching out, locating, and gathering things which appeal to them, and this universal aspect of human nature applies quite nicely to the hobby of collecting sports cards. Basically anything you can imagine can be collected; there is no end to what our imaginations can dream up. Often when people are involved in a particular activity such as a sport or a hobby group, they will tend to seek out items from within that particular genre.

People like to be able to use their pre-existing knowledge about the hobby or sport and apply it from an authority stand point while actively locating cards and assessing the value of them when they are interested in adding something to their collection or selling, or even trading the cards. When people are knowledgeable they feel a very strong sense of ability, and other people involved in the same interests will often have a mutual respect for such individuals. There are many opportunities both online and offline to become involved in a community of collectors who share an interest in a particular subject. These communities can offer a great deal of experienced resources for the novice as well.

There is such a wide variety of sports cards which can be focused on when you are collecting sports cards for investment purposes. Things can be grouped into age or era if you are interested in vintage or antique items. These are often the hardest to find and replace due to the scarcity and limited quantity of them. Since collecting is basically representative of the past, it can often remind us of much earlier times and how things were different at those times. For these reasons you can find many sports cards which are offered as commemorative items for certain events in history and these can be great investment as they are often only released in limited quantities.

Focusing on one particular team or sports figure can be a great way to pay tribute to them. This approach to investing in sports cards could follow an entire career of an individual or it could span the complete history of a team. When a sports figure has not been around for a very long time it presents an opportunity to start early in their career and possibly acquire items at a much lower cost then what they may become. With a newer athlete you could focus on all of the rookie cards you can find because you never know what they might accomplish in the future.

Investing in sports cards and collecting sports memorabilia can offer a great way to relax and something to take your mind off of the daily rat race. It does involve some studying and learning but much of this can be done with a very hands-on approach to learning once you actually have accumulated several sports cards of your own. You can create something enjoyable and something to be proud of. Often the items within a collection are worth much more than they would be if parted out individually because a portion of the value of a collection is the time and effort that it took to acquire such a large group of highly related items within a particular genre.

Best Sports Books About the Football Game

Whether you are a fan or an athlete, the most vital and comprehensive knowledge about any type of sports can only be clearly understood through the best sports books written either by the champion athlete or a veteran coach. They are the most reliable persons because they have experienced the best and worst of the games and the ins and outs of every game.

The best sports books where you can find ample knowledge on the football game as well as football training are enumerated and described below. For beginners, these will supply the information you will need to get into the sport; while for players, these will add to your knowledge and inspire you to do better and become the best.

Football Kicking and Punting

Football Kicking and Puntingcontains the techniques, strategies, and secrets of kicking and punting from the fundamentals to advanced strategies. None other than Hall of Famer and NFL 75th Anniversary Team member Ray Guy and veteran kicking coach Rick Sang are the authors of this book. The book contains 46 proven drills, specialized warm-ups and conditioning programs, game strategy preparation, opponent assessment, and defense recognition — all of which can assure a team of great and winning performance.

Football Training: For the Athlete, By the Athlete

The book Football Training: For the Athlete, By the Athlete by the Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson is a personal narrative and manual of how he developed his body into that of an NFL gladiator. The book reveals how he used safe, effective, and intense training that developed his body and confidence that result in superior performance on field. This book will surely be an inspiration and guide for every football player who dreams to master his/her athletic destiny.

Football’s Eagle & Stack Defenses

Football’s Eagle & Stack Defensesis not only about defenses but also how teams and individual players ought to attack and dominate whatever opponents’ offensive tactics may be. The author, Ron Vanderlinden, has been coach and creator of many of the toughest defensive teams in the past 20 seasons. His stints include University of Colorado’s national champions in 1990, the Northwestern’s Big Ten champions in 1995 and the high-pursuit Penn State attack. The book details the defensive tactics and techniques and coaching points that make these two defenses very effective. No other book in print has ever contained such valuable instruction as found in Vanderlinden’s book.

Quarterback Abstract: The Complete Guide to NFL Quarterbacks

Quarterback Abstractpresents the 338 quarterbacks who have started at least 10 NFL games along with 27 other significant pre-1950 passers. Every quarterback’s profile is recorded such as the name, playing style, rate in stars, statistical career totals, won-lost record, and his fourth-quarter comebacks. An appendix is also included to show the record of quarterbacks with fewer than 10 games as well as some forgotten early quarterbacks from the 1940s. This football sport book will motivate each player especially the quarterbacks and would-be quarterbacks to follow their footsteps.

Super Six: The Steelers’ Record-Setting Super Bowl Season

The Super Six: The Steelers’ Record-Setting Super Bowl Season by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette became a bestseller in Steelers territory in less than three days after the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23 against the Arizona Cardinals. It has become the Steelers’ first commemorative keepsake book and it contains hundreds of pictures and stories that will surely inspire and motivate every football lover.

Winning Football

Winning Football: The Guide to Championship Play by the famous coach Bill Ramseyer tells of the expertise and insights that brought continuous success to Ramseyer and his team. Instruction for every key technique and tactic are discussed along with drills and special tips for executing them. It records all the tools you will need to develop the proper skills, discipline, and consistency in order to win every game you and your teammates will play. This is a must-read for every football player, coach and enthusiasts.

The aforementioned best sports books are indispensable for everyone who aspires to excel in the field of football. These are also valuable reading materials for football lovers and fans that may not have the opportunity to play in the field because it will make their watching experience more enjoyable and informed.

How to Learn Life Lessons Through Youth Sports

By one estimate, more than 35 million children and teens participate in organized youth sports every year. When you consider the amount of time invested in these activities along with the expense associated with fees, uniforms, equipment, lessons, ticket fees, etc., one has to ask the question, “Is it worth it?”

According to Steve Leadley, a former baseball coach who worked with many high school students in Lower Cape May, New Jersey, the answer is a resounding yes. “The real value of athletics is not in the ends,” Leadley explained, “but in the means. We should encourage our children to play sports not in the desperate hope that they may one day turn pro, but due to the values, habits, and life-lessons that are endemic in athletics.”

Parents and coaches play a crucial role in emphasizing the ultimate value of sports participation. It’s not enough to drive them to practice and ensure their uniforms are cleaned for games. Coaches should do more than set up the starting line up and make half-time adjustments. Both should use the ample opportunities to teach life lessons and develop strong character. To maximize on the value of sports participation, coaches and parents should stress the following crucial lessons.

Physical fitness should be a life-long habit. Strength and speed are obviously important for competition but overall physical conditioning is essential to reduce the risk of injury. That’s true whether you play football, basketball or engage in common chores around the house. Many of the conditioning techniques learned in sports should be maintained through out life. Flexibility, cardio-vascular fitness and strength not only improves one’s quality of life but will help ward off various illnesses and debilitating injuries.

Young athletes must learn to respect their coach and follow his or her lead. If a young athlete can’t learn to respect, listen and follow the lead of a coach, then that future adult will have a difficult time responding to any form of authority. Everyone is accountable to someone. Resistance to authority, counselors or any knowledge experts shuts a person off from continuous growth and development. The president has his advisors. The CEO has his board of directors. Failure to listen to those around us who either know more or are in a position to offer a different or better perspective will result in, well, failure. When young athletes learn to listen to their coaches and follow their guidance, they will make the transition to adulthood much easier.

Emphasize knowledge as a key component of success. Most young athletes want to win. Nobody is eager to join a team that always loses nor cares about the score at the end of the game. They learn early on that to win they have to employ all the elements of a winning season. One of those elements is knowledge of the game. Hand a ball to a player on a basketball court and he has to know what to do with it. When to dribble, when to pass, or when to shoot based on how the defense is playing. That starts with knowledge that comes from an intense study of the game. Young athletes learn in sports to apply knowledge in competition. The competition on the court mirrors what they will face in all phases of life in the future. They realize quickly that if they don’t know the plays they will get run over and left behind. Knowledge is a key ingredient in sports as it is in all aspects of life.

Train young athletes to adopt a strong work ethic. Laziness has no place in sports success. Coaches don’t put slugs on the field. They enlist players who are enthusiastic, energized, and disciplined who have worked hard to improve their skills and prepare their bodies and minds for competition. When it comes time to make up the starting line up for Friday night’s game, do you think the coach will send players on to the field who skipped practice, took short cuts, took excessively long breaks or hid in the locker room? Of course not. Athletes know that hard work produces results. There are no short cuts to physical conditioning. Athletes who develop a strong work ethic will be richly rewarded in the marketplace when they work hard to help companies succeed.

Sports participation is fun and exciting for young players but when coaches and parents emphasize these developmental traits the rewards are much greater.

Sports Scholarships – One Way to Reduce the College Tuition Bill For the Future College Athlete!

How Much Spare Change Will You Need?

The average cost of college tuition today with room and board is about $25,000 annually at an in-state public university and around $40,000 annually at a private school not including the purchases of books, fees, and spending money, let alone airfare if your student athlete is out of state.The price tag for a college education increased 53% for public schools and 47% for private above inflation between 1994 and 2004. This college tuition cost is not going to get less! Are college sports scholarships something to think about for your future college athlete? Might these scholarships provide a little spare education change?

That is what we were facing five years ago with a high school senior who decided to play college basketball very late. But our daughter was not the elite athlete; in fact, her high school coach considered her a D-III athlete at best, possibly D-II if she stretched. We had not even thought about college sports scholarships because no coach was knocking on her door! And, in fact, today, universities and colleges have reduced the recruiting budgets for college coaches; they cannot personally recruit as many potential college athletes as before. If you are the parent of a student athlete who is not the top superstar, then it is likely you and your student athlete will have to search for sports scholarships yourselves. Your prospective college athlete will have to do his or her own recruiting to help reduce the high price of college tuition today.

Who Gets to Play?

In our research to figure out how we would find her a college sports scholarship and reduce that tuition bill, we found out that about 5% of high school athletes go on to play college sports. We also discovered there are sports scholarships beyond the “usual suspects” of football, basketball, baseball and volleyball, and not just in the NCAA! And, we learned that high school student athletes can find academic scholarships at great D-III schools that have highly competitive sports programs.

We did not want our daughter to be one of the student athletes in the 95% category that do not get to be a college athlete! She had the desire, the work ethic, and the talent. We developed a process to help her and she received a walk-on offer at a Big East D-I University in Chicago, two D-III academic scholarships, and, eventually, a D-I scholarship at a West Coast Conference school.

What we found in our research, online and personal ~ talking with college coaches, high school counselors, athletic directors and other parents ~ was that most of the emphasis is on the elite future college athlete, the one coaches actively recruit. There seems to be less effort put into those athletes who are talented, but are not maybe the superstars. These may be young athletes who are not the starters on their high school teams, suffered injuries or are late bloomers. We also saw other high school athletes whom we came across that either did not know how to begin their search for an athletic scholarship (D-I and D-II) or the academic scholarship at D-III. Or, their parents were really not knowledgeable about the world of college athletics.

College Athletics — Play to Earn an Education!

And, what we found is that there was a lot of information about the athletic scholarships, but not much about how to find a solid academic program along with that athletic scholarship. Most college athletes do not go on to play in the pros, so the object of the athletic scholarship is to help the student athlete continue to play his or her sport while also earning a college education. And, we happen to think that is still very valuable. Universities and colleges are beginning to recognize the end game — getting a good education to prepare for the “game” of life. Even the NCAA is increasingly looking at the student in the word student athlete.

I came across a recent article in a national magazine that basically was saying athletic scholarships are not all that they are cracked up to be. The author stated that the average college scholarship is about $10,000 and, if you extract the men’s sports, that scholarship reduces to $8,000; the only full scholarships are for football, basketball and volleyball. The author also stated that there is no such thing as a four-year athletic scholarship and coaches can pull scholarships for a variety of factors. True enough; scholarships are given for only one year and most sports scholarships are partial, with colleges and parents piecing together the puzzle with loans and other financial aid packages. It was a rather doom and gloom article. We have a little different view. When our daughter received offers of two approximately $12,000 academic scholarships to two D-III schools where she would have played basketball, that was $12,000 off of a $33,000 tuition bill. I don’t know about you, but I will take that any day!

Caveat Emptor! Like Anything Else — Do Your Homework and Use Common Sense!

Although the world of college athletics is not for the faint of heart and there are certainly unscrupulous programs and coaches, if one uses common sense and goes into this college search process with eyes open and a realistic picture of the level of talent, the search for a college sports scholarship, given an effective plan and process, should produce some good results. We were neophytes when we started this effort on behalf of our daughter, but we have to say the coaches with whom we talked and met were straight shooters and gave us honest answers to all of our inquiries. And, yes, we know of student athletes who have not been treated very well, with scholarships yanked because coaches were changed or the school wanted to go in a different direction. But, we also know of student athletes who were able to stay all four years at a college and play for most of those years and gain a good solid education, something they might not have had if that athletic scholarship had not at least reduced some of the college bill.

We would encourage the student athletes out there or the parents of student athletes to take a look at college sports scholarships (or academic scholarships at D-III schools) as a way to pay part of that ever increasing college tuition bill. And, the college athletic search will take you beyond the NCAA, to the NAIA, NCCAA, NJCAA, or other community college associations and will provide a much greater choice of academic programs available. There are great colleges and universities out there of all shapes and sizes to fit the interests of the potential college athlete. The key is just to start and do not listen to all the naysayers. You just might be pleasantly surprised.