I was recently working with kids (ages 8-12) on the basics of the game. These are kids who haven’t been exposed much to proper coaching; so we need to focus on the simple things. We were working on catching a ball, a skill too many youth today struggle with for the simple reason that kids do not play much catch. One boy kept dropping the ball. After dropping several in a row, he blurted out (with a smile), “I’m not good at catching a baseball.”
I immediately broke into a rant on the power of the word ‘YET”. It’s something I’ve written about many times now and one I will continue to hammer home into the thick skulls of our youth. When a child blurts out a limiting belief like “I’m not good at catching a baseball”, I immediately say the word “YET”. Then I make the kids repeat their statement, but this time adding in the word “YET”. The idea is to get kids, like this little boy to understand that he cannot catch a ball now; but he will be able to catch a ball in the future. He just needs to work at it.
Limiting beliefs are things that we perceive as being true that keep us from doing things, or limit our skills in certain ways. They are created in childhood and can arise through interactions or experiences with family or friends. In the case of baseball, young children may begin to compare their skills with those of their teammates. If a child drops more balls than others; or swings and misses at a much higher rate, they may develop a belief that they will never be able to play as good as others. The more they have these experiences, the more they believe them to be true.
It is our responsibility as coaches or as parents to help guide our children away from these limiting beliefs. When working with children, it’s important to inform them that their skill level today represents how good they are at that particular moment. Anyone can get better at anything. Saying that you will never be a good baseball player because you can’t hit well right now is a lie! It is not a factual statement.
When working with kids that hold these limiting beliefs, and express them aloud, it’s important that we do acknowledge them; but equally more important is that we address the FACTS with our kids. The FACTS are that they do have the chance to get better and the decision for them as to whether they do get better is theirs to make. The kids ultimately hold the power as to whether they want to allow those beliefs to become an actual reality.
Limiting beliefs at such an early age will often lead an individual to lead a more cautious life, never challenging themselves to get more from their life. Challenge your kids to see through the ‘lies’ they are telling themselves and be the person they want to become. You will have to help them. You’ll need to push them in the right direction. You’ll need to be that reassuring voice in their head. But, in the end, they will be forever grateful that you never allowed them to let their limiting beliefs become a reality.
Nurturing a Culture of Excellence