Strategies For Building Confidence in Young Athletes
There’s a reason Mark Lawton, longtime coach and teacher, takes his team to the championship level…
He focuses on building a team culture that boosts kids’ confidence.
When we spoke to him recently, he gave us some quick tips for both parents and coaches.
First of all, parents should find a coach who is interested in their kids as people.
“One of the first things I do, first week, is start having individual meetings with each player. I ask the players about their favorite books or movies, and try to get to know them. I write down what I learn in a notebook,” says Lawton, who gives tips at www.CoachingTips.guru.
He does this by pulling kids aside during practice or talking to them on the bus on the way to games.
“You want them to know that their coach is interested in them as people,” he says.
This makes them feel more comfortable, and as a result, more confident.
Second, look for a coach who takes the pressure off kids, especially those who are enrolled in highly academic schools.
Lawton gives kids two tickets to miss practice.
“I give them two tickets, but they have to tell me the day before,” he says. “The kids love it. They know they have the tickets in their back pockets. This works especially well for academic schools or if kids are doing college visits.”
Third, parents shouldn’t create triangles among kids, coaches and parents, Lawton says.
“It works best if there is a direct line to the coach.”
But unfortunately, some parents will talk to their kids about their complaints, rather than going directly to the coach. Kids feel more comfortable— and confident —if the parent is behind the coach.
Fourth, look for coaches who boost kids’ confidence by having only a few team rules.
“If you have a lot of rules, it creates a lot of anxiety in the kids,” says Lawton. “Kids worry, ‘If I’m late for practice, I don’t get to play in the next game.’ I tell kids, ‘Be at practice on time and if not, tell me why.'”
If the math teacher made them stay after school, Lawton is not going to take it out on the player.
“If there are lots of rules you have to enforce and have a judicial system inside kids’ head, kids get nervous.”
Coaches should keep it simple for the kids to help them feel more confident.
Want more tips for building confidence in players?
Check out our pre-game program, stock full of tips about helping kids get ready for a game:
Learn Mental Game Lessons to Help Young Athletes With Their Pregame Prep!
Young athletes and their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- They fail to take charge of their confidence before the compete
- They don’t trust in their skills when they go from practice to competition
- They hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed
- They interpret pregame jitters as harmful to their performance
“10 Minute Pregame Prep” will tell you everything you need to know about ensuring your sports kids avoid classic mental game pitfalls before a game, learn how to trust their instincts, and just go for it. It provides lots of advice for you, too…
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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!
Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- Perform like stars in practice but freeze up or play tentatively during games or competitions?
If so, check out The Ultimate Sports Parent!
The Ultimate Sports Parent will teach you powerful mental toughness secrets to improve your child’s success in sports.
Get proven strategies form leading youth sports experts!
What are sports parents saying about our mental training program?
“ABSOLUTELY LOVING your weekly videos and tips. I have a young high performing tennis player. He almost needs the thrill of competition and a match to perform well. In fact the more people that are watching and the higher the stakes the better he usually does. His problem is practice-he does not seem to motivate himself in practice.”
~Alex Dunn, Sports Parent