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It's a proud moment for parents when their child wins in sports, but too much pressure to win could be problematic, according to Dr. Max Trenerry, a Mayo Clinic sports psychologist. He says overpressuring kids to win at too young an age sometimes can make them want to quit competing in sports altogether.
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"It starts to affect motivation, and, when that pressure to win is out there, we do start to lose our young athletes around age 13," Dr. Trenerry says.
He says kids start to be able to compare their talent and skill level to other kids around age 9. By age 13, kids are often turned off to sports altogether if they feel their skill level doesn't match their parents' expectations.
That's why he says parents should leave coaching to the coach.
"So the parent reaction to these things when the child makes a mistake or they forget something, they don't get something done: Be a safety net," Dr. Trenerry says.
Being a safety net, he tells parents, means helping kids prepare and develop good sports habits when they're young. It also means letting children talk about their performances on their own terms, letting them compete when and how they choose, and making sure they feel connected to something bigger than themselves in their team.
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