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How To Encourage Your Youth Athlete

By USAHockey.com, 10/01/14, 10:30AM MDT

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Youth athletes, like everyone else, need to be praised. Parents who support their youth athletes by regularly showing love and encouragement are helping them become better team players. Plus, children who are frequently encouraged are more optimistic, better able to handle criticism, more coachable and more likely to listen and respond without resistance.

Children learn to better take constructive criticism over time. So, when providing your child with advice, it’s helpful to mix specific, truthful pieces of praise with each critique. Honesty is critical, because children sense insincere praise, and might lose respect for the person offering it and refuse to listen. To help your child become a better team player, for example, you might say, “You usually do a great job passing the ball, but I noticed that you only passed it once in the first quarter. I know you want to be a good sport, so I’m sure you can be a great team player next time.”

Honest and constructive criticism should always be provided in a way that is kid-friendly and useful. For example, instead of simply telling your child to "pay attention," which offers nothing actionable, say, “When you have a hard time staying focused, try giving yourself a pep-talk to get re-focused.”

Supporting your youth athlete in these ways will help him or her learn to love sports and have a more positive experience. Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™, in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, created this tool for ways you can encourage your child during and after the game.

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of sportsmanship and integrity shown by people every day. We created Play Positive™, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display good sportsmanship. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the ice.

In an effort to benefit millions of youth athletes, parents and coaches, this article is among a series created exclusively for partners in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™ program powered by Positive Coaching Alliance.

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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