What’s the best age for my athlete to start mental training?
This is a very common question we receive from parents when they call in to inquire about mental coaching.
However, there is not one simple answer because your answer depends on:
- The athlete’s level of competition
- The athlete’s maturity level
- The athlete’s willingness to commit to mental training
Typically, we tell parents that most athletes can engage in a one-on-one mental training program if they are 12 and older.
However, I have worked with athletes as young as 8 years old. In these cases, I tend to work with the parents just as much as I work with the athletes.
I do ask parents that the athlete meet for 15 minutes so I can assess if the athlete if ready to do mental coaching–a sort of screening process.
But it’s never too soon for parents and coaches begin instilling positive mental skills…
Very young athletes (ages 6-11) might not be ready for a personal coaching program, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start learning about mental skills.
For example, we have a series of children’s books (ages 6-9) that parents can read with young athletes. These books focus on confidence, focus, and coping with mistakes, for example.
We also provide several resources for parents and young athletes at Kids’ Sports Psychology…
So if the athlete is not ready to engage in a formal mental training program, we provide other options to learn about mental skills–and get the parents involved.
You certainly want to have resources for young athletes in the form of audio, video, or short eBooks–if they are not ready or willing to do mental coaching.
In the MGCP program, we recently added a new chapter on working with young athletes and their parents.
More parents are becoming interested in how best to communicate with their athletes about performance and mental skills training. You want to be prepared for this.
The spring MGCP certification course will start the second week of February. Early enrollment is open now and ends January 15.
You have until this Friday to register early for the course. You can register right up until one week prior to the program, but it will cost more.
What a graduate had to say about the course:
“I’ve been involved in coaching for over 30 years and included mental skills to help close the gap between potential and performance. I’ve attended numerous workshops relating to sport psychology throughout my career along with receiving a graduate degree in behavioral studies. Dr. Cohn fully shares his knowledge and extensive library of audio, visual, and printed materials with his class, in addition to, the thorough coursework materials provided. What I found most valuable is that this program provided a framework and step-by-step method of evaluation and implementation of the sound principles that he teaches; all of which are research based, accepted, and on the cutting edge of sport psychology.”~Jim Bonfiglio, M.Ed., Certified MGCP