Very often in sports, as in life, we “see” only what we expect or want to see. This may be especially true for some sports parents who have a hard time understanding why their child isn’t starting (or playing at all), as they only “see” all of his hard work, dedication, mental toughness, and good plays on the field (Sport Success 360). What these parents don’t see (because they don’t want to), are all the times their child may have been lazy at practice, given up too easily on a play, or the lower level of athletic abilities he possess compared to other kids on the team. Fortunately, the field of sport psychology may benefit from the help of perception theories to help with this dilemma.
Coaches know that most parents have a heightened sense of their child’s abilities, and good coaches prepare to eventually have to sit down with some parents and try to level out the reality of what parents see in their own kid, versus what the coach sees objectively. But why is there often such a great disparity in the first place? One psychology theory that explains this has to do with our selective attention, or more simply, we often only pay attention to what we look for or want to see, while completely ignoring or overlooking things that we are not looking for or don’t want to see.
One great example of perception flaws is this famous awareness test developed by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. Check it out for yourself, then think about how this applies to so many everyday situations where we think, and sometimes swear by, what we have seen and come to know as truth. This theory may partially explain sports politics, and the reality that these “politics” that are claimed to exist at every youth sports field, park, pool, and track around the country may have a lot less to do with politics, and a lot more to do with skewed parental perceptions.
Need some help with improving your child’s athletic abilities, or how you can help him or her maximize the athletic experience? Then check out Sport Success 360!