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Have you ever thought about sports psychology and how to communicate with your kids as a parent and/or youth coach?  First of all, most youth coaches are volunteers.  It’s so great that many people generously spend their time developing children as athletes and in team environments.  However, as a listener of this show, you know I’m passionate about the impact of the words we use- the things we say to ourselves and to others. As a new mom, I’m really interested in learning how to communicate with kids!  Mental toughness doesn’t only apply to adults and we begin a lot of our patterns as children in sport.

Enter our guest, Jennifer Etnier, PhD.  She is the author of 2 books relating to sports psychology and how to interact with kids in sport, especially as a coach. They are titled Bring Your ‘A’ Game and Coaching for the Love of the Game Her helpful books offer constructs of the best ways to give praise, her opinion of discipline, how to keep girls playing sports longer, and helping children set goals and contextualize failure.  There’s also a different relationship with how you communicate your kids if you’re the parent versus if you’re the coach.

Dr. Etnier’s research focuses on the cognitive benefits of physical activity. She is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Kinesiology. She is a distinguished professsor at UNC Greensboro.


Topics Discussed in the Podcast 

  • how parents can support their kids without getting in the way  of the coach
  • winning, losing, and how to talk about it
  • recognizing perfectionism when talking to kids
  • why early specialization in sport is not recommended
  • how to keep sports fun (40% drop out because it’s not fun!)
  • the 4 Ls that  take fun out of sport
  • trophies for kids and how to reward kids on a team
  • the gender constructs of girls and boys sports
  • comparison, feedback, and confidence in youth athletes

“A good youth coach is one who can reinforce the things that were done right during a competition, regardless of the outcome, and help better prepare the athletes for the next event. A good youth coach ensures that every practice, every competition, every communication is focused on all of the athletes having a positive and enjoyable experience.”

-Dr. Jennifer Etnier

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