Parents often ask how they should interact with their athlete to best support their confidence in sports.
Here are a few general guidelines:
1. Encourage self-motivation.
Motivation must be cultivated from the love of sports and competition – not from external rewards. You want athletes to practice and compete for themselves — not to please others.
Athletes play sports for many reasons. Maybe they love the competition, the social aspect, being part of a group, or the challenge of competition. Realize that your agenda might not be theirs.
2. Help your athlete focus on the process.
Teaching your athlete to focus on the process, the here and now, and focusing on one play at a time will help them play in the moment and with confidence. Focusing on results can add pressure and anxiety.
3. Model good sportsmanship during competition.
If you become anxious, angry, or frustrated, so will your athlete. For athletes to perform well, the goal is to be loose and carefree, but focused on performing. Model good sportsmanship by remaining composed and positive.
4. Resist coaching during competition.
During competition, it’s time to let them play. Too much coaching on technique can interfere with the coach’s instructions or lead to a controlled or cautious performance. Cheer and encouragement are okay, but avoid giving specific directions.
5. Give positive feedback after competition.
Though it may be easy to give your athlete advice on what not to do in the next competition or how to do better, first give positive encouragement. Pick out one or two skills your athlete did well.
Real confidence is stable and enduring. Encourage your athlete to improve upon mistakes, rather than dwell on them. Help them think positively when they have doubts.