“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does — that makes you a winner right there.”
Building confidence in young athletes requires some planning. Just think of yourself.
There are days when you feel good about yourself, and there are days when you don’t. What’s important is that you learn to push and perform in those days when things might not be going our way. Pushing yourself to slog through a hard time requires motivation, and motivation comes from self-confidence.
Self-confidence is the secret ingredient that all successful athletes seem to possess regardless of what level they compete.
There is absolutely no doubt that self-confidence plays a key role in how well you perform. When you are confident about your capabilities, it becomes easy to perform to your full physical potential. The same potential of performance can dwindle significantly if your self-confidence level is low.
Fortunately, self-confidence is a characteristic attribute that can be learned over time. Unfortunately, this quality is not easy to achieve. There is a constant struggle in all of us where one part of us is eager to succeed, and the other part is happy and complacent within its comfort zone.
Like any other parent, if you want your kids to excel in education and sports, it is important to instill confidence. There is absolutely no doubt that self-confidence is the pillar on which an athlete’s career success is based.
7 Ways to Build Confidence in Young Athletes
While some people seem to be born with more than their fair share of self-confidence, it can also be an acquired quality. Parents and coaches can help. Here are some suggestions when coaching and parenting kids.
1) Be Patient
The first step of building confidence in a child is to teach them the quality of patience. It is not uncommon for young athletes to feel devastated when the picture they have painted in their minds fails to conform with reality. As a coach or parent, it is your duty to make them understand that there are no failures. There is only another opportunity to attend a high degree of personal excellence. This realization gives them a positive attitude towards life, making them one of the toughest competitors on the field.
2) Break the Cycle of Doubt
There are times when even the best of the best athletes suffer from self-doubt, which is not uncommon. However, it becomes dangerous when an athlete lets the cycle of doubt take permanent roots in his psyche. Doubtful thoughts can create a sense of anger, frustration, anxiousness, and disappointment, and as a result, it is common for young athletes to give up all hope they once had.
As a coach or parent, you can break the cycle of self-doubt by encouraging your kid or students to argue with their pessimism. Ask him questions that would make him seek evidence for his belief. When you teach them how to undermine confidence in competition, you take them one step closer to developing stable self-confidence.
3) Reinforce Performance Accomplishment
When a young athlete performs well in any competition, it is one of the most powerful factors which impact his self-confidence. On the other end, confidence can drop substantially when athletes fail to perform. A good way to boost self-confidence is to help athletes remember past successes in practice and competition. To boost their self-confidence, you can highlight either a big accomplishment or a small one. The idea of reinforcing past accomplishments is to help athletes relive those moments of glory to achieve a confidence boost. Studies have shown that confidence does matter.
4) Focus On Their Talents
It is good to have a hero or an idol in life who can be their inspiration. However, when they put someone on a pedestal thinking that they are better than them, the chances of feeling less confident get multiplied. As a coach, it is your duty to remind your student of their own talents and strength as an athlete.
5) Recognize Efforts Not Just Performance
Like every drop in the ocean, which contributes to vastness, every participant in a sporting event helps make an athlete feel more confident about his capabilities. It is a general tendency among people to look down upon participation trophies. Everyone wants to secure a place on the victory stand. However, as a coach, it is your duty to keep the kids engaged in sports respective of how many trophies they manage to win. Recognizing every small win is important in shipping the self-confidence of a child. Even a participation certificate in a sport like soccer might sow the seed of a future Christiano Ronaldo or Jenny Finch in the mind of your kid.
6) Encourage Sports And Other Physical Activities
Sports are no longer considered as the sole domain of boys. Participating in sports and physical activity teaches a child to improve their sense of independence. Physical activity helps her child to recognize their strength and accept their weakness. They learn the value of teamwork and the art of handling defeat through the medium of sports. A physically active body automatically keeps the brain healthy and well organized. Expanding the horizon of experience and making new friends can help a kid to build self-confidence.
7) Give Praise When Deserved
A child’s psyche is very fragile, and here she is prone to determine their self-worth by the opinion of their parents and coaches. It is therefore important to give your child positive feedback without hurting his sense of self-worth. If a child fails to perform well in a particular event, you can always pay his effort but not unrealistically praise the results. As a coach or parent, help them set realistic goals and teach them that sometimes it takes repeated effort and practice to achieve perfection.
Finally, as a coach or a parent, you should never burden your child or student with the burden of expectation. Just allow them the space to enjoy the game and develop a love for sports.
By Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the founder of Sports Feel Good Stories and has coached over 20 youth sports teams.
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