Ensure Young Athletes’ Self-Talk is Positive

Youth Sports Psychology

Positive Self-Talk in Youth Sports

Even top athletes tell themselves, “I need to talk to myself more positively. I need to take a hard look at the way I talk to myself about sports.”

In youth sports, kids need to do this, too, says Dan Schaeffer, Ph.D., who works with athletes to boost their confidence.

Kids tell themselves, “I don’t want this to happen,” “I don’t want to miss this shot,” “I’m a bad shooter,” and other statements that are negative.

That’s negative self-talk and kids need to turn this into positive self talk.


Negative self-talk distracts young athletes and hurts their confidence. What’s more, it hurts those around the athletes. “If you have a negative environment, it affects everyone,” Schaeffer says.

Such talk often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Kids tell themselves they’re not going to do well, or they’re not good at something–and that’s what happens.

To solve the problem, kids first have to recognize that their self-talk is negative. “People need to hear themselves and change the conversation,” he says.

Here at Kids’ Sports Psychology, we agree. We suggest that kids who engage in negative self-talk first identify the negative statements they tell themselves.

Next, they need to change the negative statements to positive ones.

For example, instead of “I’m going to miss this shot,” they might tell themselves, “I’ve made this shot many times. I can do it again right now.”

Keep in mind, however, that kids need to be patient with this process.

They can’t change negative thoughts into positive ones overnight. However, once they’ve identified that they have negative self-talk, they’ve made a big step.

The same is true of most mental game strategies. You can’t change an ingrained way of thinking overnight.

But if kids are aware of what they need to change, and work on it everyday, they’ll see results!

For more tips and strategies for boosting kids’ confidence, check out Kids’ Sports Psychology.

Exclusive members have access to our interview with Schaeffer, who also discusses why kids need to take ownership in their experience.

Interview with Dr. Dan Schaeffer

You’ll also find eBooks, articles, audios, and more, all designed to boost your kids’ confidence in sports.

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

The Composed Sports Kid

“The Composed Sports Kid” audio and workbook digital download program for young athletes and their parents or coach helps kids cope with frustration and anger in sports. Help your sports kids learn how to manage expectations and let go of mistakes so they can keep their head in the game. 

The Composed Sports Kid system is really two programs in one–one program to train parents and coaches how to help their kids practice composure, and one program that teaches young athletes–ages 6 to 13–how to improve composure, let go of mistakes quickly, have more self-acceptance, and thus enjoy sports more

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