How To Help Kids Keep Confidence in The Face of Favoritism

Youth Sports Psychology

Confidence Busters in Youth Sports

A sports mom writes us that her daughter’s basketball coach has different rules for different kids.

If some kids make mistakes during a game, they still get to be starters in the next game. However, if her daughter makes the same mistakes, she doesn’t get to start.

Of course, this seems unfair to the young athlete—and it causes her to worry about making mistakes, which hurts her performance.

“This is hard for her (not to mention her dad and I) and I need to help her redirect her focus,” writes the sports mom. “I just don’t know how.”

This young athlete is dealing with two classic confidence busters:

  1. First of all, she worries about making mistakes,
  2. She’ll likely will make her play tentatively. Rather than “going for it,” she likely is stiff and plays to avoid making mistakes.

This will hurt her performance—and her confidence. Instead, she needs to perform in the moment—rather than thinking ahead to what she might do wrong. To do this, she can establish small, positive goals that will help her focus on performing well.

Second, the basketball player compares herself to other players–which is a mental game no-no. When kids focus on others’ strengths or how others are treated by the coach, they’re focusing on the wrong thing. They need to focus on their own strengths and abilities.

Think about it.

Do you want your young athletes to tell themselves:

  1.  “Look at how quick that point guard is. She never drops the ball. It’s going to be hard to compete against her.”
  2. “I’ve got a strong mental game, a great team, and I’m tall and quick on my feet.”

You guessed it! The answer is Number Two!

This young athlete also needs to understand what she can and can’t control. She can’t control her coach or what he’s thinking or doing. She can control her own actions.

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We’re certain that, as a parent, you want to help your child develop confidence and discipline in sports and life. And as a sports parent, you’d love for your children to reach their potential in sports. But encouraging your child to strive for greatness without pressuring them can be a challenge.

You can get expert mental coaching with us from anywhere. Meet with us via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone call. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.

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