A forgotten rule: put people first

Often young explain away defeats in terms of lack of ability, declaring that the opponent was stronger. In my experience with them I frequently encounter such assessments, especially from those who invest heavily in sports between the ages of 14-18.

We know from Seligman and Dweck’s 30 years of research that these attributions are pervasive and damage the person’s self-confidence in the long run. These kinds of explanations are based on the belief that if the other is stronger, it means I am not good enough to deal with him or her. Other times the explanations for defeat lie in thinking that the other person was lucky.

I am convinced that the work with them, and in any case with young, is to help them acquire a performance appraisal that has as its goal the development of the person and not the increase of pessimism toward oneself, with all the negative psychological implications that this entails.

This negative mindset has been learned from parents, teachers or coaches who are too result-centered and much less performance development-centered.

  • When training is focused on task-focused, mistakes are interpreted as learning opportunities.
  • When training is focused predominantly on the outcome, errors show the inability and slowness to learn.

One must, first, evaluate the effort and then the result. And not vice versa. I am talking about the ABC’s of teaching, but if we meet many young athletes who do not think in this way, it means, at least in my opinion, that they have not been coached with this approach.

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