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Content Provided by the Positive Coaching Alliance

Sports Parenting Tip from
 The High School Sports Parent by Jim Thompson

Focusing on talent can be a trap.

Carol Dweck of Stanford University, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (and a PCA National Advisory Board member) has identified two different mindsets that possess enormous implications for sports parents.

The first is the "fixed mindset," in which one sees one's ability as set. Either you are talented athletically or you aren't. Either you are smart or you aren't. This mindset is a dead-end because whether you succeed or not is determined by something totally outside your control.
The other is the "growth mindset." You believe in your ability to grow and improve, regardless of where you start. This is a wonderful thought for any young person: "I can get smarter (or better at learning a foreign language or excelling in a sport or...) if I work hard at it."
If your teen does something well, either on the playing field or in the classroom, Dweck’s research offers clear guidance on how to respond.
For example, you might say, “Wow, that was a great play. You are really good!” This focus on talent reinforces a fixed mindset and the idea that your son or daughter has little or no control over his development. A tough challenge in the future then becomes even tougher because talented people aren’t supposed to be stumped by a challenge.

On the other hand, you could say, “Wow, that was a great play. You’ve really been working hard, and it’s paying off.” This reinforces a growth mindset that her good play is a result of her effort, which will more likely cause her to try harder in the future when faced with a challenge that stymies her initially.