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4 Tips to Boost a Youth Athlete’s Confidence Level

  
  
  

Confidence on the field or court can go a long way in helping your youth athlete succeed. A confident athlete isn’t going to let little mistakes or errors bring them down; they’ll be more sure of themselves in a stressful situation (like bottom of the ninth, bases loaded kind of deal), and  they’ll probably have a lot more fun! But every youth athlete, no matter how sure of themselves they may look, can probably use a little confidence boost from time to time.

Here are four ways sports parents and coaches can help boost a youth athlete’s confidence level:

1. Smile from the sidelines.

Think how much better you feel when someone smiles at you as opposed to sitting there stone-faced, especially when you are in a stressful situation. Imagine how much easier meetings at work would be and how much more relaxed you’d feel if people would just smile a little! A smile is simple non-verbal form of encouragement that might give your youth athlete that little confidence boost on the field. An angry or stern on a parent or coach look might read as disappointment or frustration, which can undermine their confidence and make them ever more nervous.4 Tips to Boost a Youth Athlete’s Confidence Level

2. Remove the fear of making a mistake.

A lot of athletes freeze up because they are afraid of making a mistake and embarrassing themselves in front of their teammates. Sports coaches and parents have to make it clear to their team that everyone is going to mess up and that it’s okay! One great way to set everyone at ease is to play games that force your team to fail (like throwing a baseball with their non-dominant hand or playing soccer while tied to a teammate). It’s a simple game but it might help set everyone at ease—everyone is going to mess up sooner or later but that’s ok! No one will be singled out or teased for making a mistake.

3. Set smaller goals.

While it’s important to push your athletes to achieve and excel, you also want to set smaller goals along the way that your team can use as stepping stones to greater success. For instance, pitching a perfect game is a pretty high (and almost impossible) goal. Even something a little smaller like not walking any batters for an entire game can set the bar pretty high for a young baseball player. Obviously that’s an end goal you would love to see your pitcher achieve, but along the way why not set up smaller goals like staying ahead in the count (throwing more strikes than balls), focusing on perfecting a specific pitch or getting better and communicating with the catcher. These little goals contribute to their overall success but give them something to feel good about along the way.

4. Keep your criticism constructive.

Coaches shouldn’t be afraid to point out the mistakes the team made, but you want to keep your criticism constructive. Don’t just point out what they did wrong, also show what they should have done and outline a plan for how you’re going to address it. For instance, at the next practice the team will spend more time working on base running skills so everyone knows what to do in certain situations. You don’t have to pretend like there isn’t a problem, but don’t just get mad about it and not offer any solution.

Comments

I enjoyed reading this article.Seeing a smile from the sidelines is great,because you know it is for you.In sports as while as in life,you are going to make mistakes.We are Humans.Setting smaller goals can lead to increasing goals as you accomplish smaller goals. Make sure your have a solution for when things go wrong and work on that in practice and your next game.Having good solid solutions to mistakes and working on them gives does not make it sound like Criticiism. DAN BROWNE
Posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:40 PM by Dan Browne
Jodi, 
Great article. As a coach I always stressed being aggressive when fielding or running and that would create mistakes, which are expected. 
Mental mistakes is what I attempted to stop. The physical skills will eventually catch up if the mental skills were there.
Posted @ Friday, November 30, 2012 9:58 AM by Jim Bain
This article was well thought out and is something every parent and coach need to read. I use all these principles when it comes to interacting with my 10 year-old cousin who plays Pop Warner football. I think a lot of these young athletes are not told enough what they do well, which often result in sports burnout before most reach middle and high school. Once again thank you for the article.
Posted @ Friday, December 07, 2012 6:32 PM by Rita Hailey
Wow! The timing on this is perfect for me. I've been dealing with a middle school girls basketball team that is really struggling with fear out on the court. They know what to do in practice but then panic in the games. The fear of failure and of disappointing others has a huge impact on their enjoyment of the game. Seeing a smile on the sidelines tells them their value as a human being is not dependent on their performance on the court.
Posted @ Thursday, December 13, 2012 3:04 PM by Bill Formella
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