Athletes Who Doubt Their Abilities Before Games

Youth Sports Psychology

How To Improve Kids’ Self-Confidence

One of the biggest challenges young athletes face before a game, parents tell us, is doubt about their abilities.

In fact, that’s what we see, too. Just before a game, kids start telling themselves that they’re no good at making three-pointers, that they don’t think they can beat a team with such big players, that they’re worried they’ll repeat the fatal mistake that cost the team the championship two years ago.

As you can see, kids can think up many reasons to doubt themselves just before a game!

But just before athletes perform, they need to overcome these doubts so they don’t hurt confidence. You want kids to focus on things that will help them prepare to perform and play well.

First of all, they need to recognize that their heads are full of doubt.

Sometimes kids run these negative thoughts through their minds without being fully aware that they’re doing it.

Help your kids identify their doubts–but don’t do this just before a game. (You’ll likely hurt their confidence if you bring it up just before they play).

You might help them with this before or after a practice. Then remind them they need to focus on their positive attributes, such as their teamwork, ability to perform under stress, or all that they’ve learned during practice.

Help them create a list or resume of their positive experiences or attributes, and ask them to review it just before a game.

We call this focusing on their talents (not shortcomings)–and it can help silence the noise of doubt that runs through young athletes’ heads just before a game or performance!

You could also suggest that they refute or reframe each doubt with confidence-building self-talk…

For example, when young athletes tell themselves, “I don’t think I can play defense against that big player,” you want to help them replace that thought with, “I’m quick on my feet and can outsmart that player.”

We really appreciate the responses we’re getting to our survey about what rattles kids’ confidence before a game or performance.

If you haven’t shared your thoughts, please do here:

We’re also loving the words of appreciation that are coming in through the survey, including:

“You both and your team are doing a great job! Also, your newsletters and website are great.”
~Sports parent

Help your kids avoid confidence-busting pregame doubt!

*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.