Most think that athletes do not need a mental game until they get older. In my opinion developing a strong mind goes hand in hand with developing sound fundamentals from a young age.
Nothing crazy but teaching youth athletes to have FUN, not to worry about mistakes because they happen so we can learn from them, learning how to forget about those mistakes and try again are some small mental techniques that we can start at the youth ages.
As athletes get older we can introduce other ones like the list below.
1. Giving their opponent more credit than he/she deserves.
2. Not going to bed earlier two nights before a competition.
3. Thinking they are better than they are when they win.
4. Thinking they are worse than they are when they lose.
5. Not regularly practicing and applying slow deep breathing.
6. Not listening to relaxing piano music hours prior to competing.
7. Devaluing the importance of rest and recovery time.
8. Thinking that playing video games is quality resting time.
9. Not taking enough self responsibility for poor performance.
10. Making sports a false idol they believe will fulfill them.
Bonus: Failing to realize how you practice is how you play.
By Dr. Jarrod Spencer, Sports Psychologist