When Talent Becomes A Burden

Hey everybody. It’s me, Coach Rebecca and I want to talk with you about how the movie “Encanto” can relate to our talent becoming a burden in sports. And what the movie can teach us about sport-confidence.

What I specialize in is helping athletes overcome fear and mental blocks. A lot of the kids we work with through Perform Happy are super talented. But I am going to tell you that there is a direct connection between talent and mental blocks. This movie “Encanto” explains all of this really well.

The myth about talent

So I think that there is a myth in life that your talent is your superpower.

Here is how I imagine that looks in the gym. There is this little eight-year-old little gymnast. She walks into the gym, takes all of her corrections, has great body awareness. The coaches always love coaching athletes like that. It is always fun to coach a talented kid. Then we start thinking, what else can this athlete do?

This gymnast is winning. They are getting medals. they are getting up on that podium. That is all incredibly fun for both the gymnast and those supporting her. Then everyone starts thinking about her going to the next level. She is on the talent space shuttle to the future.

Then there is a problem that all athletes with a lot of talent run into.

They go from being the kid who loved the sport just because it was fun. Winning was fun. That fun and the love for the sport was the internal motivation.

But then comes the pressure

It could be the coaches, the parents, the athletes themselves, or just the culture of youth sports. But when you are talented there comes this pressure to win. The pressure to be successful.

The thought process

Putting that talent under pressure can bring up some negative thoughts. “Last season I did well so I have to do well this season”, “I got that skill fast so I need to get this skill just as fast”, “If I fail I will disappoint everybody”.

The athlete has had the chorus of people telling her ” oh you are so amazing, you are talented, you are so fun to coach”. All of these compliments are great but they can start to bring up a little self-doubt.

Self-doubt in the body

When you start to doubt yourself little things start to happen. You start to fear “what if I fail” “what if I disappoint”. That creates tension in the body. That sends a message to the brain that something is dangerous. There’s a risk, There’s a threat. Which then makes the brain send a message to the body to tense up and get ready because there is something dangerous ahead.

Then you take that mental state to practice. When you try a new skill, a big skill, that feels a little scary and that feeling of fear starts to compound under the expectations and pressure that comes from the young talent and young success.

Now you have a 12 or 13-year-old talented athlete who is having a complete mental meltdown even though they were supposed to be amazing.

Perform Happy can help your talented athlete

If that sounds like your athlete, reach out to us. That is who we work with consistently. Unfortunately, it is a pattern we see time and time again in youth sports.

Now, let’s relate all that back to “Encanto”

Lusia has super strength. She can carry like 8 donkeys or a church or a piano with no problem. She is always carrying something ridiculously heavy, so much so that you just expect it from her.

Then she starts to sing her song, her big song. It’s about all the pressure and if she’s not strong enough and if she can’t help people, she has no worth. If she can’t do what she is talented at, then she has no value.

What would that look like in the gym?

I see this in these 12 and 13-year-olds who feel like this without necessarily verbalizing it. They are feeling like they have no value because they can’t do what they are supposed to be able to do. They can’t do that thing that gives them worth, their talent, because they are scared. Their skills aren’t working and they aren’t performing under pressure because of this threat to their emotional safety.

Emotional Safety

What it boils down to is a threat to their emotional safety. Which is not always related to abusive coaching, although it often is. Family expectations that have been set too high can play a part but not always. A lot of it is just the athlete feeling they are going to be crushed under the pressure and expectations of their talent, which prevents them from trusting themselves.

We have Luisa who’s the whole song is about how she is crumbling under the pressure of her talent, of her superpower. She feels like if she can’t help people that she doesn’t have any value. Now her powers and talents are fading because of that self-doubt.

We see that with these athletes, they feel like they are not valuable unless they’re performing. That is reinforced through a lot of messages that they are getting about their talent and their potential. Suddenly their talents seem to fade a little bit.

Talent does not equal value

Every athlete will hit a mental wall eventually. It is just part of the game, especially in a high-pressure athletic sport. It’s the kids who break through it that reach their dreams in sports. It almost has more to do with being able to overcome the mental blocks than it does with talent.

Don’t let your talent become a burden

Your talent can become a burden if you don’t figure out how to have a good relationship with yourself.

As Luisa continues in her song she wants to be able to relax a little, find her joy, but she realizes that she doesn’t even know what that would look like. At one point her family has to plop her down in a hammock and be like, “you just relax”.

How can perform happy help your talented athlete build that relationship?

That is a lot of what we teach these ids through Perform Happy. How to find your joy, how to relax, and how to trust the process. Just allow it to happen and trust that it will all be okay.

At the same time, we are teaching them that they do have value regardless of how they perform, which goes ahead and grees them up to show off those talents. The amazing thing is that a lot of what we teach has nothing to do with talent or with the skills, those aren’t the problem. It’s the perspective. It’s perfectionism. It’s self-criticism. If we can work on softening that and allowing the happiness and joy to come back in, they can strive for excellence buckling under the pressure.

If you are nodding your head, saying ” wow that sounds just like my athlete” then it might be time to start investing in mental training as much as physical training.

An easy way to get started with us

Next week on January 17th we are starting a challenge, come join us!

The Champion Mindset Challenge is five days of bite-sized exercises. It is quick and easy, and the results are amazing. We are opening the doors for the challenge right now, you can register at https://completeperformancecoaching.com/challenge

If you have an athlete that sounds a bit like Luisa right now, this challenge is for them.

So join me next week on our Facebook. Make sure you are following us on our page Complete Performance Coaching because that is where all of the magic is happening. I am so excited to help your athlete find their little hammock of joy within the crazy chaos that is youth sports.


Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.