Building Confidence in Youth Sports
A sports parent asks:
“I hear that it’s important to help kids set goals in sports. I’m not at all sure about how to go about this. Do you have any advice?”
Goal setting is essential in and out of sports.
A 1979 Harvard study illuminated this by tracking the success of students who set goals and who did not. The result? The 13% of students who DID set goals ended up making TWICE as much money as the 87% who did not.
We see this pattern play out in all kinds of fields. Goal setting isn’t just good for sports or business, it is for success in general.
The goal setting process helps your children understand where they currently are, and where they are trying to go in their athletic efforts.
Without goals, they can end up lost and unsure of what to do. When the game is on the line, players who have goals can calmly look to them to know what to do, while players without them may hesitate under the pressure.
Players who do not set goals often fail to build confidence.
One of the keys to building confidence is step-by-step goal setting.
Kids can meet and exceed their goals while setting new ones, forming the building blocks of confidence. Goal setting will also make hard work and improvements more efficient, and the results will follow.
At the same time, you do not want to set the wrong goals for your children.
Choosing goals that are too ambitious can have the opposite of the intended effect; it can hurt kids’ confidence. If kids set their expectations to score three goals a game, they will never build confidence when they score just one.
To set solid goals, first take a look at where you want to set the expectations for your children. Then set goals in the immediate, short term, medium term, and long term.
The immediate and short-term goal successes will help kids boost confidence in the short term.
Make sure to state your goals positively! For example, instead of saying, “I won’t miss a three point shot,” say, “I want to make two three pointers in the game.”
Focus on the processes within the game and not the game as a whole when setting goals, to help your children focus on being in the moment while playing.
Make sure kids understand that they strive for goals and they are not expectations they must meet. Goals can be assessed and re-evaluated often.
At Kids’ Sports Psychology, we have a section for members on goal setting. You can learn how to teach young athletes how to set appropriate and positive goals.
Download an eBook on goal setting at Kids’ Sports Psychology.
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…
With our program, you can stop wondering what to do and relax before your kids’ games!
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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!
Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- 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?
“We really enjoy your emails and are grateful that we found your web site. It is so needed. There really isn’t much out there to guide parents. Thank you for your work. And yes, we have passed on your web site to numerous parents.”
~Debbie and Peter Cooney
“After listening to your podcasts and reading your free e-book, most of the challenges apply to my 14-year-old son. He’s got all the physical ability, but unsure of himself in games. He has a difficult time rebounding from errors, the screaming coach on the side, along with his uncle in the stands probably doesn’t help his confidence. So reading and listening to your information has been so helpful and validates what I have observed in him for the past few months. Thank you so much!”
~Brenda Felder, Everett, WA