Self-confident athletes are not born, they’re made
It is not always fun dealing with kids who are not self-confident athletes. However, I have an advantage. I am an example of an athlete who somehow made it to the top level without much, if any, self-confidence. Believe me, that is no way to play anything. I often look back and even wonder if I enjoyed my time in the major leagues for that reason. Going to work every day with little belief in your abilities is little fun. For the good news, I believe those times have made me a better youth coach and one who can relate to many young ballplayers who struggle with confidence.
I know what kids with little confidence go through and try to help them as a coach and a parent of youth ballplayers. Following are some helpful tips to help athletes develop the self-assurance that makes playing so much more enjoyable.
- Realize self-confidence does not come from praising kids all the time. Give honest evaluations in an empathetic voice, along with teaching them to accept and embrace challenges that sports present. Self-confidence comes with overcoming obstacles not with being told how great they are doing.
- Make sure you do not over-emphasize what players do on the field. Treating their sports accomplishments as “who they are” and as more important than other things they do is hurtful in the end.
- Do not be the “Helicopter adult” who handles every situation for kids. Let players deal with others and let kids have their voice, even if it is not what you want to hear. When it is apparent they need some help then step in after talking to them about the situation.
- Explain to athletes that failure is a setback only when they do nothing about it and that staying focused on their goals is the key to advancement and fun.
- Make sure players realize that perfection is unattainable and not expected by you. Remind them of the things they control – effort and preparation – and your only request is that they give their best.
- Help players realize they cannot change past plays and not to dwell on them. Assist athletes in learning how to keep their mind in the present, having a fearless demeanor and that every play and game’s outcomes are independent of previous ones.
A printable guide to developing self-confident athletes
Develop Self-confident athletes
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 28 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.
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