Helping Perfectionists Overcome Fragile Confidence

When Young Athletes Struggle With Self-Doubt

How Expectations Hinder Confidence

Perfectionists tend to have more confidence in practice than they do in competition. They also harbor what’s called fragile confidence.

Fragile confidence means that athletes’ confidence rises and falls depending on how they are performing at the moment. At its worst, fragile confidence can increase and decrease with every play or shot.

If kids have been practicing for many years, why do they struggle with confidence?

It’s due in part to expectations. Perfectionist kids often have very high expectations. When they don’t meet these expectations, they start to doubt themselves. They also get frustrated. Doubt and expectations can hurt kids’ confidence.

We know one perfectionist swimmer who doubts her confidence after a bad warmup. That’s just one example of how quickly a perfectionist can feel her confidence sink.

During competitions and games, perfectionists also harbor doubts because they question whether they can win. They worry about their statistics. They focus on all the wrong issues.

As a result, their confidence can blow in the wind.

How can young perfectionists and other young athletes get off the confidence roller coaster?

How to Build Stable Confidence

Kids need to take the long view and pump up their confidence. They should remind themselves how long they’ve been playing, recall their best moments and focus on their strengths. It’s not a good idea for them to compare themselves to other athletes. That can just sink their confidence and create more doubts.

Young athletes can even create a “confidence resume” that focuses on their strengths. Kids can review this resume before practice, warmups or games.

Sports kids should also focus on playing in the moment–not on the score, win or their stats.

Whether or not kids are perfectionists, they should focus on their strengths and think long-term. They shouldn’t let every bad play or shot undermine their confidence.

*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

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.