Even multimillion dollar a year athletes have a time in their careers when they are in a slump. Why would a youth athlete be any different? Getting through the time and keeping the athlete from just “giving up” is key.
-Be supportive!!! As a parent, you are their cheerleader. Yes, you are disappointed and frustrated as well – but throwing your hands in the air and walking away when they drop another station 2 high house target is not the answer. You need to be supportive and realistic. Most importantly, listen to your athlete when they need to talk about the problems they are experiencing.
-Encourage the athlete to talk with the coaches. If the team is large, you may be the first one to notice that there is an issue. Encourage your athlete to bring any issues up to the coach themselves. A parent cornering a coach at an event and demanding attention for their child’s issue is NOT the solution. Make it a life lesson and have the athlete take the lead in finding a solution.
-If it is one particular target or station that is giving the problem – practice it.
-HOWEVER – Don’t overdo the troubling target if struggles persist!!! The athlete may need to take a break from the discipline and try something related – this is where you need to get creative. If the athlete is struggling with straightaways – go to a sporting clays field “just for fun”. When your athlete gets a similar straight away target and hits it; have them do it again before pointing out that it is the same target that they are struggling with, just in a different presentation.
A long term struggle may become a subconscious problem particularly if it involves a specific target – something much harder to overcome than gun fit or hold point problems. Once an athlete starts to fear a target because they feel that they will miss – the chances of that happening will increase.
“Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right.” – Confucius
Keep you athlete’s spirits up as they work through the tough time. Scores will bounce back if they don’t give up.