November 26, 2015

Why This Soccer Coach Undermines Kids’ Confidence

If you want to know what NOT to do as sports parents and coaches, read on.

We received this letter from a parent and former coach of a soccer player in the 10-12 –year-old age group.

“My child’s coach has three assistant coaches and a lot of first- year players on the team. After suffering a five-point loss, one of the assistant coaches after the game felt it necessary to degrade the team’s loss and tell the team everything that they did wrong.”

 The letter when on…

“I mean everything–from the defenders not doing what they were supposed to do all the way to lack of paying attention.  This took at least 10 to 15 minutes. My child was upset enough from losing the game, and the dejection she had to have felt from this assistant coach was clearly evident to me. I was getting upset just watching it from the sideline!”

The parent was right to get upset. This type of behavior from a coach or parent after a game hurts kids’ confidence, success and enjoyment of the game.

In fact, if coaches and parents focus only on mistakes, like this coach did, kids will likely develop fear of failure or fear of making mistakes.

They’ll scrutinize their mistakes. They’ll stop playing freely—but will instead play to avoid making mistakes. Fear of failure hurts kids’ performance. Young athletes play their best when they feel confident and free and are willing to take risks.

After a game, follow these tips:

  •  It’s important to be positive. Both coaches and parents can find one or two positive things to say about how the kids played.
  • Be clear that your athletes’ performances don’t reflect on them as people. Often, young athletes link their self-esteem with their performance.
  • Ask your players what they did well, and discuss these points with them, even if you don’t agree.
  • Watch your body language or other subtle punishments you give. It may show your disappointment that the team lost the game.
  • Focus how to improve the next game instead of the loss!

Want to learn more about how to boost your sports kids’ confidence and success, especially after a loss or mistake?

We have an e-book—written specifically for young athletes—to help your kids bounce back after defeat and learn from failure. It’s titled:

 “Growing From Adversity: How to Stay Confident After failure”

If you’re already an exclusive Kids’ Sports Psychology member, you get the e-book for free, along with other e-books that address these topics (and others):

  •  Kick Fear of Failure and Perfectionism (for kids)
  • Teaching Young Athletes to Get in the Flow of Sports (for parents)
  • 12 Pre-Game Tips to Help Kids Trust What They’ve Learned in Practice (for parents)

But that’s just the beginning. At Kids’ Sports Psychology, you  can download over 17 e-books for parents and sports kids, plus audio and video programs and articles.

What’s more, we’ve just launched a new video series, “Inside the Minds of Young Athletes.”

Kids’ Sports Psychology resources are designed to help you become better sports parents or coaches and ensure your young athletes get the most out of their physical talent and have more fun.

Become a member today and help your kids reap all the important benefits of taking part in youth sports:

Kids’ Sports Psychology


Patrick Cohn Ph.D. and Lisa Cohn

P.S. If you’re already a Kids’ Sports Psychology member, you can download this e-book that helps kids stay confident after failure and learn from their mistakes:

Growing From Adversity: How to Stay Confident After Failure E-book


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