Helping Youth Athletes with Social Media Distractions

Helping Youth Athletes with Social Media Distractions

Full disclosure: it took me two hours to start writing this blog.

Not because I wasn’t motivated, lacked creativity, or didn’t have enough ideas to pour out, but because I fell into an ceaseless loop of distraction.

What started off as a single google search, became one, giant detour. I started browsing the internet for research on the brain, so incredibly determined to get this blog on distraction published, yet somehow ended up at a blog on Bohemian, hand-made jewelry.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I went from searching for neuroscience studies to perusing fashion tips.

And then it hit me.

I fell into the unending abyss of information, entranced by the blue light on my screen, and unaware of what the hell I was doing.

Not only was I deterred from my original task, but I was stripped away from self awareness.

And it’s terrifying. Social media has its way of making us forget who we are, and what we set out to do.

Alas, now that I made it here to write this article, I’m in awe of how easily humans can become distracted, and on a serious mission to help them from getting sidetracked from the things they truly want to do.

I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better. You see, the key to all of this is honing self awareness, and waking up to our own needs, values, and goals. Moreover, staying true to these relentlessly.

Looking to the youth sports world, social media is a double-edged sword.

While we live in an exuberant time where we have access to a plethora of training, nutrition, college recruiting, psychology, and development tips, we couldn’t be more confused on what’s right and what’s wrong.

Should we train the same way Alex Morgan is training on her Instagram account even though we’re 8-years-old?

Should we aim to get recruited and go pro at age 13 like Olivia Moultrie even though we are late maturing and still developing?

Should we be in a severe caloric deficit as much as that skinny Instagram model even though we are athletes who need fuel to perform?

Should we do technical skills training that looks like a circus even though our sports are simple?

Should we do the keto diet because our friend is posting ripped pictures on their Facebook?

Should we play in the Development Academy because all of our friends are posting the cool equipment they get?

Should we play year-round soccer because everyone else is doing it, even though we get joy from dabbling in other sports?

There’s a lot of noise, no doubt, and I understand it’s easy to compare and feel behind. Worse yet, it’s hard to discern what truly is best as far as training and developing as a young athlete.

Alas, there is hope and it’s totally possible to rise above the chaos, but it’s going to take an immense amount of digging into our psyches. In fact, every corner, every depth to our brain depends on our ability to handle distraction.

So what’s the secret?

Self awareness.

In other words, who are we and what are we trying to do?

Yes, it’s a deep question that one might find on the Joe Rogan Experience, but it’s the only way to figure out what is best for us. It’s the only way for us to understand our goals and habits and more critically, if they align.

I can’t teach anyone self awareness, nor can I tell people what is right or wrong, but what I can do is ask questions that bring people close to awareness of their behaviors.

So. What are you trying to do?

If you answer, for example, “I want to play Division 1 soccer,” awesome.

Let’s move to the next question: who are you and what are you doing to get there?

If you answer, “I scroll Haley Bieber’s Instagram account until 3am every night,” not so awesome.

If you answer, “I train like a professional adult athlete,” and you’re a maturing kid hitting puberty, not awesome.

If you answer, “I would rather look at Kylie Jenner transformation photos instead of practicing my soccer skills in my front yard,” not awesome either.

Seeing if habits and goals align is the first step to mastering self awareness. Too, I urge everyone to answer this gut-punching question:

Are you following social media accounts that make you a better athlete AND human?

Are you becoming technically better?

Can you apply these skills in a game setting?

Are you becoming physically stronger?

Are you becoming a healthy and injury-free athlete?

Are you becoming mentally stable?

Are you becoming happier and fulfilled?

Are you becoming energized and full of inspiration?

These are all insightful questions to ask when figuring out which accounts to tune into, and which ones to ban and delete.

Personally speaking, I pride myself in being down from following 850 to now just 280 accounts on Instagram.

Got rid of the celebrity news, political nauseam, and influencer model, photo shop embellishment.

Of course, what works for me might not work for you, but the moment I found my motivation, energy, and mood depleting, was the moment I clicked unfollow.

So what works for you? What doesn’t?

It’s important to ask ourselves these questions because the mental side of athletic development impacts our mood, which impacts physical performance. If we’re constantly anxious, jealous, stuck in comparison, not energized, unmotivated, unproductive, our performance wanes and confidence suffers.

To that end, social media cannot be ignored in this discussion. It’s a large piece to the mental health pie in child athlete development.

While distractions lurk around us everyday, it’s empowering to know we have the ability to choose where our attention goes.

With daily self awareness practice, and reminding ourselves of our aspirations and daily habits to get there, we can rise above the noise.

Whether it’s writing these down and getting clear on them every day, or speaking our dreams out loud, or checking in with our actions in a journal, or having deep conversations with our friends, start now.

Self awareness, just like physical training, takes consistent practice and execution.

If there’s anything you get from this article, it’s to wake up. Stop settling for life in a drone-like trance, and become aware of what you really desire and what you want to achieve.

Who are you going to unfollow to clear the clutter out of your mind?

And who are you going to follow to infuse value into your life?

Choose wisely.



For physical and mental training insights for youth athletes, get Total Youth Soccer Fitness HERE.

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