In sports there is a super fine line between success and failure on game day. In a long tournament weekend sometimes that line becomes blurred and as parents or coaches we struggle with why our athlete and team don't play consistently and seem to reach such highs one week then such lows the next.
From a recent experience with my own team I believe I have discovered why so many elite, or travel level athletes and teams fail to achieve their true potential on game day.
If you study, as I do, athletic competition at every level you will find that an athlete's or team's "mentality" before, during and after the game is the X Factor that determines winners and losers. From professional to elite Olympic, amateur and college athletes alike how you think is truly how you will play. With most teams and athletes at the highest levels of competition being fairly equal in ability it becomes the mental preparation and mental response to game day adversity that becomes the deciding factor.
However, I have discovered for younger athletes the dynamics on the mental side of game day success are far more complex and far more troubling.
Keep in mind that my assessment is a generalization; that your athlete or team may not suffer from these dynamics. I do, however, highly encourage you to look honestly at your athlete and team to see if you can chalk up game day failure to what I'm about to say: