My daughter, a student at a school in the Portland metro area, brought home an intriguing article from Scientific American Mind, entitled "The Secret to Raising Smart Kids," by Carol S. Dweck. See the article at http://tomweston.net/RaisingSmartKids.pdf. I think the principles really apply to any activity, whether academics, sports, or other fields.
Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, in numerous years of research related to learning and intellect, has determined that students who are told they're "smart," who are led to believe that the innate characteristic of "intelligence" is the reason for their success, are actually hindered in their development because they begin to avoid taking risks that could lead to "failure" because then they would not look smart. On the other hand, students who are told that the reason why they are successful is because they work hard, are eager to risk new challenges, even if they might possibly fail, knowing that they can risk failure in order to grow.