Frustrated with recurring excessive emotions? Tired of frequent conversations about retaliation penalties, ineffective mindset, or aggressive behaviors? Wondering why they just can't control emotions that are negatively impacting their game?
Although it's not an excuse or a free pass, emotional reactions are physiologically & biologically developmentally correct for kids and teens.
BUT... we also know they aren't conducive to performance, team comradery, or sportsmanship.
FUN FACT. The adolescent brain is not the same as an adult brain.
We've talked often about the how the brain develops from the back (amygdala- emotion) to the front (prefrontal cortex- reason). But it's not a quick process.
This development is happening until their mid-20s.
While it's easy to question "what in the world were you thinking?!?" and punish their behavior, those responses don't provide the right lessons to reduce the risk of it happening again- or build reasoning skills.
Recognizing alternative options (especially during heightened emotion) takes PRACTICE.
Yes, just like practicing physical skills, practicing mental skills is equally important.
Once the moment has calmed, instead of berating the athlete (or beating ourselves up) for behaviors or mistakes and asking "what were you thinking?!"....
ask "What could you have done instead?"
Parents and coaches, try to not feed athletes answers…
Athletes, don’t wait for parents and coaches to give you answers.
As adults, we can probably rattle off 15 potential options... that skill didn't happen overnight.
Practicing options through discussion, visualization, and situations takes time, but not only does this help support the developmental pathway, it also helps increase sport IQ.
We aren't trying to eliminate feeling angry, frustrated, or confused; instead, we're giving them the tools to manage the emotions effectively and logically.
Another option to practice building the amygdala to prefrontal cortex pathway?
Watch a pro or other team player's emotional reaction (ironically often found in sports "highlights"), and brainstorm other available options those player could have utilized.
Just like learning any new skill, these take time... especially in the heat of the moment.
Of course, supporting these mental skills with brain fueling foods, proper hydration, and quality sleep further supports their developing neurological pathways:
nuts & seeds
all help support brain development.
Need more ideas for practicing emotional to logical responses? Concerned food choices, poor sleep, or stress are contributing to aggressive behaviors and heightened emotions?
Reach out here with questions to see how Rock Performance can help your athlete and family.