Self-Talk And Confidence in Youth Sports
A sports dad who wrote us recently understands exactly why negative self-talk crushes confidence. Even in a talented athlete. However, he has no clue how to stop the downward spiral that such self-talk produces, he says.
Read on to learn about why negative self-talk is such a confidence killer—and how you can help your young athlete overcome this challenge.
When kids embrace negative self-talk, they use negative words to describe their abilities when they’re carrying on inward conversations with themselves. They also do it when they’re talking to others. They say things like, “I stink,” or “I can’t take a shot today.”
This sports dad’s 16-year-old daughter is a great example. She trains twice a day in Netball in Australia, he says. She’s physically fit and has excellent technical skills. She even has experience competing in triathlons.
“The problem is when she trials for the state team she starts to get the self-talk that says she is not good enough, and starts to have self doubts. She then starts to have fear of failure. This then causes her to make mistakes which then reinforces the self talk and self doubt.”
When the dad talks to her about her self-talk, she understands what she’s doing wrong. “But she says she can’t stop this self-talk,” he says. “Is there some way we can stop this so that she can remain confident and play her natural game?”
This dad explains this problem so well. Even when kids know they’re committing this mental-game no-no, they don’t know what to do. They can’t stop the negative thoughts or statements that jump into their head.
We’re here to help.
First, watch what you say to your young athletes.
You want to especially avoid broad-ranging negative statements like, “You always freeze up before a game.” Kids will often start repeating such statements to themselves.
Second, watch how your kids talk to themselves and about themselves.
Do this especially after they make mistakes. You might hear them say, “I really stink,” “I always miss that shot,” or “My left-hand passes are horrible.”
Point out that they’re using negative self-talk.
Third, ask your kids to identify typical negative statements they use when talking or thinking about sports.
Fourth, ask them to reframe such statements.
That means they need to come up with a positive statement for each negative statement. The positive statement should focus on their positive attributes–their training, coaches, mental game, teamwork or talent.
If your kids struggle with this and other challenges that hurt their confidence, we’ve working on a brand new program for you.
It’s called “The Confident Sports Kid: A 7-Day Plan for Building Self-Confidence in Young Athletes.”
It includes a guide for parents and coaches, a workbook for young athletes, a CD program, and more. For now, we’d like you to send us your comments or experiences about self-talk or anything related to confidence.
Do your kids struggle with negative self-talk? What do they say? How do you deal with it? What other issues bust your kids’ confidence? Please post your comments below.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Help Your Young Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt In Sports!
The Confident Sports Kid helps young athletes improve confidence quickly and overcome common confidence killers that destroy motivation and fun in sports!
This is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athletes’ performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!
The Confident Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one that teaches sports parents how to boost their kids’ confidence, and another that teaches young athletes age 8 to 12 how to improve their self talk, avoid negative thinking, overcome expectations that limit confidence, and much more.
What are parents and coaches saying?
“Each Race He Was More Calm, Composed, And Relaxed”
“I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful programs. My son Kai was one of the fastest 10 and under swimmers in Southern California and after he “aged up” to the 11-12 group he really lost confidence swimming against the much faster and bigger boys. He started with the Confident Sports Kids series and really enjoyed each and every lesson. He then started the Composed Kid series and built on the important building blocks that he was using from the first series. I so happy to report that Kai was able to swim to best times in each and every event he swam at the biggest and most important meet of the year in So Cal, the Club Championships. Each race he was more calm, composed, and relaxed. The final race was one that he was ranked last and one of his goals was to try for top 16…he was 49th! He cut over 4 seconds off his time ending up in 17th. He was ecstatic to say the least.”
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism And Fear of Failure will walk you through the problem and arm you with practical solutions.
The Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma is a two part program. It includes:
- A 23 page E-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes and gives step-by-stop sports psychology tips for helping kids.
- A 21 page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help you kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism.
Now you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence!
What are parents saying?
“After listening to a couple of your podcasts and reading your “10 tips to confidence in youth sports,” most of the challenges you make note of apply to my 14-year-old son. He’s got all the physical ability, but the more mistakes he makes, the worse it seems to get. 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