How To Apply The Growth Mindset To Youth Sports

Alex Flanagan
In Balance
By Alex Flanagan | October 25, 2016

Teaching children develop the right mindset might be one of the most important things parents can do to help them achieve success. According to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, there are two types of mindset. The fixed mindset, which is the belief that one’s abilities and talents are fixed traits and the growth mindset, where people think they can get better at something if they work at it.” According to Dweck the growth mindset is the one that leads to more success and “Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports.”

In an effort to start applying the growth mindset to my children and yours, here are five alternatives to answering our children’s most basic sports questions.


#1. When your child says: “I’m not good at it.”

Try answering with this: “Remember it’s not winning or how many times you score, but instead your effort and attitude that determine your abilities.”


#2. When your child says: “I can’t do it.”

Try answering with this: “You can learn to do anything you want. You just have to train your brain.”


#3. When your child says: “What if I can’t do it right?”

Try answering with this: “Even if you don’t win or perform perfectly, I bet you will still learn something that can help you do better next time. Failure isn’t something to fear as long as we are willing to learn from our failures.”


#4. When your child says: “It’s too hard.”

Try answering with this: “Remember, not everything is supposed to be easy, in fact challenges are what help us learn and grow as a person.”


#5. When your child says: “He’s so much better at playing (insert position or sport here, i.e. goalie) than me.”

Try answering with this: “What can you learn from him? What things does he do that make him successful that you could try?”




  1. I think it’s hard to overstate the importance of a growth mindset. I think it’s the most important thing kids can take away from any sports experience. Not only that I think it’s the most important thing in helping them get better at whatever their sport is. Our are actions are a product of our beliefs. If we believe we are capable of getting better than those beliefs will produce the action that it takes to get better.


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