Mindset Moment: May

Growth Mindset in Sports and the Arts

We can clearly see the importance of growth mindset in regards to education, however growth mindset is equally important in sports and the arts! Everyone has heard the debate about nature vs nurture. How much of an athlete’s success is a result of heredity and innate talent? How much is due to hard work and effort? What about both? Carol Dweck wrote an interesting article on this subject. If you have a growth mindset you see “talents and abilities as things you can develop- as potentials that come to fruition through effort, practice and instruction. People with a growth mindset don’t believe that everyone has the same potential or that anyone can be Michael Phelps, but they understand that even Michael Phelps wouldn’t be Michael Phelps without years of passionate and dedicated practice.” Almost every truly great athlete has a growth mindset. Think of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Mia Hamm. “Not one of these athletes rested on their talent; they constantly stretched themselves, analyzed their performance, and addressed their weaknesses.”

One of the greatest gifts we can give our young athletes and musicians is the skill of being “coachable”. Let your student know that they are not expected to be perfect. They are young and in the process of learning. They will need feedback from their coaches about how to get better. This is not failure! This is an opportunity.

Another factor in fostering success in young performers is the idea of practice. Children often have unrealistic expectations of how much they will need to practice a skill, instrument, or technique before they become proficient. Parents are often the key motivators for practice. Children need to know that “practice, whether it is on the piano, in the pool, or on the football field, is not always easy and it is not always fun. Most of the time it is not glamorous, either. It requires perseverance, commitment, and time. It requires the feedback and support of a teacher or coach. Practice allows the brain time to make the solid neural connections and grow new ones with increasing levels of challenge.” Practice makes permanent!

Also it is important to remember that even when cheering from the sidelines, certain things are more important than others! Acknowledge effort, encourage stepping out of their comfort zones, and praise growth. However, Ricci and Lee have a caution for parents. “If children are constantly relying on direction from the sidelines, they become a listener and not a creator of the action. Rather than learning to solve their own problems on the stage or field, they are relieved of that responsibility and instead rely on the parent or adult to direct their next action. This micromanagement of the child creates a lack of self-sufficiency and sends a fixed mindset message.”

The next time you are sitting at a concert or in the bleachers at a baseball game, remember growth mindset moments can happen every day. We as parents must “purposefully react to everyday situations in a deliberate way in order to foster resilience, model perseverance, and ensure that our children see a growth mindset as part of every aspect of our daily life! “
For more information on ideas presented in the article see “Mindsets: Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck” or Mindsets for Parents by Mary Cay Ricci and Margaret Lee.

Please feel free to talk with me about anything growth mindset related! I would love to chat! ~Mrs. Aker


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