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Overcome Injuries & Setbacks

Ensuring Your Child's Mental Fitness

"Parents should take advantage of opportunities to empower their athelete to become mentally tough. Guide them through various situations while allowing them to work through it themselves allows for real life teaching moments."

The rise in the availability of sports camps and structured activities enables kids to participate in their favorite sports, staying active, at times year around. This can lead to sports injuries, especially to knees, ankles, shoulders, and elbows.

Many athletes speak to parents about injuries, while others may choose to hide them. Athlete athletes pushing to continue can worsen injuries, causing huge setbacks, especially for kids who love playing. This makes it extremely important for parents to find ways to not only encourage athletes to speak up when hurt but to develop mental toughness to overcome injuries and setbacks.

Athletes are resilient and with the right skills can overcome obstacles, recover after failure, and cope with injuries or setbacks. This blog provides strategies to help athlete athletes gain mental toughness.

Be a Role Model

Athletes learn best through observation and imitation so allowing them to witness your own mental toughness during adversity, especially when an athlete is young, increases the chances that your athlete will carry this trait.

Athletes face various situations when playing sports, including losing games, injuries and poor performance that affect their development – whether that effect is negative or positive depends on their ability to cope mentally. Parents striving to meet their own mental strength and major self-improvement goals in life provide a mirror to their athletes, helping them deal with adversity.

Being a positive and realistic example with the intention of fostering improvement will improve an athlete's drive to be better. Parent acknowledgment of their own mistakes and shortfalls along with working towards improvement provides an athlete with a roadmap to face their own adversities.

Teach Mental Strength

Parents should take advantage of opportunities to empower their athletes to become mentally tough. Guiding them through various situations while allowing them to work through it themselves allows for real-life teaching moments they can revert to when handling injury or setback.

Here are ways to help your kid learn mental toughness:

  • Teaching Through Discipline: Discipline is not an opportunity to let out anger, show disappointment, or cause suffering for a mistake. It is an opportunity to teach the acknowledgment of bad choices and accepting consequences. Self-discipline is the ability to acknowledge the need for improvement and accountability. Whether an athlete is injured during play or lost a game, find ways to encourage them to acknowledge the causes of their own shortfalls and then encourage improvement. Teach them the importance of self-discipline, problem-solving, and impulse control so they understand that every choice they make has a consequence – good or bad, they will have to face it.

  • Allow “mistakes”: Teach your kid to understand that making wrong choices are learning opportunities and a part of life. Teach them that wrong choices allow them a chance to be corrected and only become “mistakes” if repeated. Teach them that those that become “mistakes” lead to even worse consequences.

  • Teach Proper Control of Emotions: The ability to handle different emotions is a critical aspect of anyone's life. It's important to teach athletes how to handle uncomfortable emotions instead of only attempting to cheer them up when they are sad or angry, for example. Teach them emotions are natural and that it is alright to allow themselves to go through the experience. Teach how to express and control their emotions based on situations. This is another great time for parents to lead by example.

Foster Self - Reliance

It's natural for parents to worry about their kids' disappointment and it’s tempting to help your athlete whenever they struggle. However, jumping to their rescue all the time causes them to lose opportunities to learn self-reliance. Avoid encouraging the habit of feeling helpless if you want them to develop unmatched mental strength. Instead, allow the uncomfortable feeling to linger until they decide to act, so long as doing so doesn’t cause serious injury or illness. This will instill responsibility in them. With proper guidance, you'll help your athlete develop the much-needed mental strength that can help them overcome negative situations.

Tips for fostering Self - reliance:

  • Foster personal responsibility: One of the key aspects of developing mental strength is to help your athlete embrace personal responsibility in anything they do. Allow your athlete to provide explanations but not excuses whenever they make mistakes. Be quick to correct your athlete whenever they try to blame others for their misfortunes, injuries, or setbacks.

  • Prioritize Gratitude: Self-pity and poor habits lead to mental weakness. Encourage your kid to make gratitude a priority in anything they do. Explain the importance of seeing the bigger picture, even when experiencing setbacks, so they appreciate the learning experiences that come with them. Gratitude will help enhance your athlete's mood and problem-solving skills by teaching them to appreciate the process of learning from the experience.

Encourage Healthy Self-talk

It’s difficult to develop mental toughness when an athlete is always putting themselves down. Encourage your athlete to avoid negative thinking and instead, focus on reality and positivity. Developing reality and optimism can help kids overcome tough situations like injuries and setbacks.

Encourage Good Character

Good decision-making requires strong moral character. Instilling good moral values in an athlete promotes the ability to deal with the consequences of their actions, even when there is a better choice. Remember kids copy their parents, so develop your own morals for them to mirror. Create opportunities that reinforce those moral values, especially honesty, and compassion as they are key moral values of development.


Injuries, loss, and other setbacks can be damaging, especially if there is no intervention early on. Adversities are a part of life and overcoming those adversities requires mental strength. Parental encouragement and being an example are key to helping ensure your athlete fully develops the necessary characteristics to be successful even through difficult situations.

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