Confidence Busters in Youth Sports
Sports, at any level, are a game of confidence.
Kids who have tons of confidence usually will rise above the competition.
Under pressure, these kids’ performance will thrive because of their strong belief in their ability.
We receive many emails from concerned sports parents stating that their kids struggle with confidence and self-doubt…
Parents are concerned that their kids focus too much on the negative, express negative comments about their performance, are generally pessimistic, and disqualify any real positives.
As you might experience with your sports kids, confidence can be fragile or fleeting. If your child has fragile confidence, one mistake, at the start of a game, can pop the thin confidence bubble and lead your kid into the mental shackles of doubt.
What undermines kids’ confidence in sports?
Here is our short list:
- Self-doubt about one’s ability
- Self-critical behavior or negative self-talk
- Focusing too much on errors
- High, strict expectations about performance
- The need to be perfect in sports, but can’t
- Making comparisons to other athletes
- Overly critical coaches or parents
- Attributing success to luck and not ability
Another confidence buster for your kids is when they focus too much on the negative and can’t accept positive comments from others. In psychology, they call this “disqualifying the positive” – a so-called cognitive distortion.
Athletes who disqualify the positive perceive good performances as flukes. They hang onto a negative view of the world. They have trouble focusing on what they did well. Have you ever complemented your child on a job well done and your child responds with “I was lucky”?
At KidsSportsPsychology.com, we encourage parents to help kids learn how to accentuate the positive and learn from mistakes…
We want parents and coaches to begin a post-game conversation by making two positive comments about their son’s or daughter’s game. You encourage them to focus on the positive and not mistakes.
Pick out two simple areas you can complement your son or daughter about… For example, “You really hustled on defense today and made some great stops.”
First, you are more likely to get your player’s attention by starting with a couple of positive comments. Second, you teach kids to remember the good plays and not dwell on their mistakes.
Part of human nature is to be self-critical after a game – even when your child performed well. One step in building kids confidence is to help them see through their own self-criticism.
You want kids to appreciate what needs to improve, but not dwell on their shortcomings after a performance.
We have a ton of other confidence-boosting tips for sports kids, parents, and youth coaches waiting for you at Kids Sports Psychology:
If you want all our confidence-boosting strategies for sports kids, you should jump over to Kids’ Sports Psychology and take the free tour of our new program to boost young athletes’ mental skills for sports:
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism And Fear of Failure will walk you through the problem and arm you with practical solutions.
The Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma is a two part program. It includes:
- A 23 page E-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes and gives step-by-stop sports psychology tips for helping kids.
- A 21 page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help you kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism.
Now you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence!
What are parents saying?
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“Dr. Patrick Cohn and Lisa Cohn are to be congratulated! Together, they offer a wealth of knowledge, information, and practical mental tools for sports parents on the substantial “mental game” challenges and pressures facing today’s young athletes.”
~Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach
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The Confident Sports Kid helps young athletes improve confidence quickly and overcome common confidence killers that destroy motivation and fun in sports!
This is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athletes’ performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!
The Confident Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one that teaches sports parents how to boost their kids’ confidence, and another that teaches young athletes age 8 to 12 how to improve their self talk, avoid negative thinking, overcome expectations that limit confidence, and much more.
What are parents and coaches saying?
“Each Race He Was More Calm, Composed, And Relaxed”
“I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful programs. My son Kai was one of the fastest 10 and under swimmers in Southern California and after he “aged up” to the 11-12 group he really lost confidence swimming against the much faster and bigger boys. He started with the Confident Sports Kids series and really enjoyed each and every lesson. He then started the Composed Kid series and built on the important building blocks that he was using from the first series. I so happy to report that Kai was able to swim to best times in each and every event he swam at the biggest and most important meet of the year in So Cal, the Club Championships. Each race he was more calm, composed, and relaxed. The final race was one that he was ranked last and one of his goals was to try for top 16…he was 49th! He cut over 4 seconds off his time ending up in 17th. He was ecstatic to say the least.”