6 Ways to Build Confidence in Young Athletes


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In order for youth athletes to make it to an elite level, they have to have talent, dedication and the drive to work hard and improve their skills. While ability and work ethic are very important skills for athletes to develop, the one skill that sets elite athletes apart is confidence.

By improving one’s confidence on the court of field, it benefits all aspects of an athlete’s life. On the other hand, a lack of confidence can have devastating results for an athlete’s performance in sport and in the classroom.

As a coach or parent, we want the best for our athletes. We want them to have faith and confidence in their abilities. We want them to know what they’re capable of achieving today and, with hard work and dedication, what they’re capable of achieving tomorrow. When an athlete is confident in their abilities, they are more aggressive and generally play harder and better.

Just like physical skills, confidence is something that can be developed with practice.

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Here are 6 ways to develop confidence in youth athletes to set them up for long-term success:

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Lead By Example

Kids learn how to react to situations by watching their role models. For example, when a young kid trips and falls, they pause for a second or two as they try to figure out how to react. Am I ok? Should I Cry? During those few seconds they are looking at a coach or parent to gauge their response. They search for cues in the faces of their coaches or parents, and will respond accordingly. If we rush over panicked and worried, they are going to be panicked and worried. If we respond by acknowledging the fall calmly and offer a bit of encouragement— “you’re ok, it was just a fall, dust yourself off” — they will usually pop right back up. It is important for parents and coaches to be role models constantly displaying the discipline, hard work, and self-belief that you hope to see in your athlete.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Confidence is based on evidence and experience, which comes from practice. Practice is the time for athletes to work on their skills. If an athlete is constantly sharpening their skills and abilities, they are constantly reinforcing faith in their capabilities.

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Start Off Easy & Develop the Fundamentals

A simple way to improve confidence is to start with something easy. For example, if you’re teaching someone how to hit a baseball for the first time, you won’t start by pitching a fastball from the pitcher’s mound. You wouldn’t do this, because it simply won’t be fun for a new player to constantly swing and miss. Instead, start them off hitting from a tee. They can learn how to keep their eye on the ball and make firm contact. As they get better, you can try tossing the ball under hand to them from a few feet away. Finally, as their skills continue to develop and their confidence grows, you can move back to the pitcher’s mound.

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Break It Down

Anything you do well becomes enjoyable. That is the idea for starting on the tee and developing the fundamentals from the last example. It is important for coaches to break down the skills so the athlete can understand what they need to do. Once they have consistently shown that they have mastered the fundamentals off the tee, they will get bored of the tee. Once they get bored, a coach will introduce a slightly more complicated skill to develop. Putting in the time and working on the basics doesn’t appear glamorous — but athletes who constantly sharpen their skills, sharpen their confidence. MLB players warm up the same way by starting on the tee to make sure their fundamentals are dialed in and they are confident before they hit live.

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Focus On Doing Your Best

In sport, the objective is to win. But the desire to win shouldn’t take away from an athlete’s most important goal: doing your best. The best team or player doesn’t always win, it’s the team that plays the best that wins. As coaches and parents we have to let our athletes know that there is no shame in losing if you do your best. Sometimes its bad luck, or sometimes the opponent is just better than you. If you know during practice that you put your best effort into learning and mastering the fundamentals, and focusing on doing your best instead of being the best, the wins will come as long as you play hard.

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“Don’t Fear Failure”

Lastly, and perhaps more important, teach kids not to be afraid of failure. Confidence comes down to the battle between faith and fear. Fear of failure can really destroy an athlete’s confidence even to a point where they don’t want to participate so they don’t make any mistakes. As a coach, we have to recognize when athletes are afraid and nervous. When we recognize this, we must empower them, we must offer words of encouragement and remind them of their abilities. Understanding fear is the best skill you can teach a young athlete. Fear of failure holds us back from being the best we can be — not just in sport, but in all areas of our lives.

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How to Improve Your Mental Game with Visualization


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Visualization is an important tool used by elite athletes to gain a competitive edge. Visualization is a technique of creating visual imagery of circumstances that you want to occur in reality. In other words, see it to believe it. For athletes, it is a mental rehearsal.

Here are two visualization techniques to use to improve your athletic performance:

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Visualization Technique 1

I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.  -Muhammad Ali

If you think you are the greatest and you visualize yourself being the greatest, you will become the greatest. As an athlete, if you want to be the best, you have to think you’re the best. It is best to try to include all of the senses when visualizing you winning or accomplishing a goal.

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Visualization Technique 2

Visualizing movements, routines and specific plays helps athletes mentally rehearse for competition. Notice how elite athletes remain calm under pressure. Their secret? They have already ran through every scenario and possible outcome in their head before stepping into the game. All this visualization means, when the pressure’s on, you don’t have to think, you just have to react. This is what separates the good from the great — anticipating what’s going to happen before your opponent keeps you a step ahead.

You can also visualize complex movements, like throwing a baseball or swinging a bat. Mentally rehearsing these complex movements activate the same areas of the brain that are used when completing these movement in reality. This neurological activation can help reinforce movement patterns making those pathways a little bit faster.

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Learn how to up your game with visualization techniques with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.

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Coach’s Guide to Ankle Mobility


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Ankle mobility has been the topic of wide discussion lately, and it’s no wonder why. Ankle injuries are one of the most common in training and sport.   Understanding a proper approach to gaining adequate ankle mobility can get lost in the complexity of training the inverters, everters, dorsiflexors, plantarflexors and other stabilizers that control the ankle.

In addition, the system of intrinsic muscles that make up the arches of the foot also play a role in ankle mobility. Furthermore, this does not take into account the relationships of stability and mobility that occur at the knee, hip, and lower back. With so much to consider where do you start in identifying and training an athlete with potential ankle mobility limitations.

As a coach, you want to make sure your workout and coaching program are not limited. This means you have to address any dysfunction that could relate to managing a current injury, readiness of returning to sport and reducing the possibility of re-injury or for an athlete who has never been injured.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”3″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”5%” margin_bottom=”4%” class=”” id=””]AS A COACH, WHAT CAN YOU DO?[/fusion_title][fusion_text]

  • It is important for athletes to train together however, knowing each athlete has different patterns and compensations for achieving movement is paramount. They should be grouped prior to sport specific training to address the corrective needs necessary for regaining optimal, functional ankle movement.

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  • Being a hinge joint, the ankle is designed to move. For this reason, correcting and maintaining any asymmetries to an athlete’s ankle is of great importance. Proper movement should occur at the ankle and hip, which are designed for mobility, while the foot, knee and low back are designed to provide stability. An athlete has greater potential to improve within his sport if the efficiency of mobility and stability are taking place in the correct joints of the body. Utilizing the Functional Movement Screen for identification of ankle mobility restrictions or other asymmetries and dysfunction is essential for developing and correcting improper movement patterns.

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  • Asymmetries are part of some sports. Baseball, for example, demands differences between the right and left shoulder and track, so the athlete is constantly favoring one side. Those asymmetries are expected, however shoulder should be pain free and within an acceptable range of motion. These asymmetries should not affect the mechanics of the rest of the body’s fundamental movement patterns. These considerations must be taken into account when hitting the weight room or performing skill based movement drills.

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  • Soft tissue release through foam rolling and mysofascial ball, as well as half kneeling correctives can all improve ankle range of motion.   The biggest benefits come from addressing asymmetrical or dysfunctional areas of the body. This allows the ankle to move as it should, instead of as a stabilizer, which if compensating can limit ankle mobility.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Are you, or your athlete struggling with an injury?  Come get a Functional Movement Screen and proper corrective exercise program to get you back on the right path with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-up for Any Workout


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One way to set yourself up for workout greatness is by employing a dynamic warm-up. The warm-up below will prepare your body (and mind) for the advanced and technical moves to come. Additionally, taking the time to warm your muscles will help keep you injury free and in the game.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”2%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”3″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]Before your workout, take ten minutes to perform the following exercises:[/fusion_title][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″ last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_checklist icon=”fa-check” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=”” size=”13px” class=”” id=””][fusion_li_item icon=””]10 Up Dog/Down Dog[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard and Back Jog[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]10 Leg Swings (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard Back Pedal and Back[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]5 Lunges (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard Skip Backward (skip back)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

10 Push-Ups

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5 Groiner Stretches (per leg)

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20 Yard Shuffle and Back

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5 Lateral Lunges (per leg)

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20 Yard Karaoke and Back

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10 Supine Straight Leg High Kicks

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10 Bridges

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10 Supine Leg Swings

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20 Yard Broad Jump

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10 Yard Single Leg Broad Jump (per leg)

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5 Burpees and Sprint 20 Yards

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5 Single Leg Burpees (left leg) then sprint 20 yards

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5 Single Leg Burpees (right leg) and sprint 20 yards

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]5 Standing Knee Pulls (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][/fusion_checklist][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Why Athletes Should Watch Water Boil


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“A watched pot never boils.” Or does it? Have you tried? It feels like it takes forever if you watch it. In actuality, whether you watch it or not has no effect on how fast the water takes to boils—you can’t make it boil faster by wanting it more.

So now, you ask, how will watching water boil make me a better athlete? Watching a pot of water boil trains your willpower. You train your willpower the same way you would train any other part of your body. Your brain makes physical changes through the power of meditation and mindfulness training.

Wait, meditation? Isn’t that some spiritual or religious thing? Yes, but that’s not all it is. The practice of meditation teaches your mind to focus on specific and targeted thoughts. Being able to do this helps block out all of the things that take you away from your goals. The hard part about meditation is that it requires you to sit still for specific amount of time— but while it is hard, it is also the reason why meditation is a useful took for athletes — it trains the mind to adapt.

Watching water boil in a pot is simply a form of mindfulness training that is similar to meditation without having to sit crosslegged or chant mantras. I know this sounds silly, but just as squats make your body physically stronger, meditation and mindfulness training strengthens your willpower![/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”single|dashed” top_margin=”5%” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”#000000″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]

Meditation Training Exercise

For the next 30 days, complete the following meditation exercise:

Step 1: Get a small pot and put some water in it.

Step 2: Put it on the stove and turn it up to high.

Step 3: Stare at the water until you see a rolling boil.

Do the same pot of water for seven consecutive days. After that, get a bigger pot and add more water. It is like training the body gradually to increase the load to work the muscle to get stronger.

*Don’t move your eyes from the water no matter what else is going on around you.
*Don’t worry if your mind wanders.[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”single|dashed” top_margin=”5%” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”#000000″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]The first few times you complete this training, you might experience anxiety or stress waiting for the water to boil. This will pass as your willpower improves.

This meditation training will slowly build your willpower up over time. It is amazing to see what sorts of things you think of when you are forced into a structured —and seemingly boring — situation.[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Mental training is a critical part of all competitive athletes’ training program. Improve your mental game with the techniques and tactics employed by the elite coaches at VSP South Bay. Click below to learn more about our programs and free trial.

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3 Ways to Tell Your Athlete Needs an Off-Season


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In competitive athletic environments where strength, speed and skill development are constantly compared to teammates and competitors, off-seasons are extremely important for athletes.

To be clear, an off-season does not give an athlete license to disregard all healthy and active choices, it is productive time spent away from a given sport in order to reflect, recover and re-up for the next season with energy and excitement. Without this time, athletes can lose passion, concentration and can very quickly burn out.

Here are three ways to determine if your athlete needs an off-season:

Do they play their organized sport or sports year-round?

If yes, they need an off-season. If professional athletes don’t practice and compete in their sport year-round, why should your athlete?

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Do you not plan family vacations because you don’t want to pull your athlete out of their sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. In order to train and compete at the highest levels, all athletes — and family members, too — need some good-quality R&R. Rest and recuperation are critical for developing athletes.

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Do they only play one sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. Let another sport or structured athletic performance program act as their off-season. In the words of strength and conditioning expert Guido Van Ryssegem, “Movement variability is the oil to the central nervous system.”[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”5%” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Athletes can make the most out of their off-season by training speed, strength and skills with the elite coaches at VSP South Bay. VSP South Bay makes athletes better. Click below to learn more about our programs and free trial.

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