Teaching Confidence in Young Athletes
We have all seen it - an average team with average technical skills overcomes and beats a taller, stronger technically superior team. How? Confidence in themselves. In these instances it is common that the “better” team plays tentatively and seems confused while the “weaker” team plays aggressively. And wins.
What’s the difference and the lesson from these instances? Confidence in the athlete can be a game changer. If the athlete does not play as if they own the game, they can quite often lose. In other words, going into a competition without knowing the outcome can lead to a loss. A “Trying to win” attitude is not enough.
How do you teach confidence in athletes? Some have it naturally in spades. Others develop confidence as they develop technical skills. Others grow in confidence as they develop game awareness. And others need to be taught attitude.
So the first step is to make sure the athlete has the fundamental technical skills to perform. The next step is to teach position skills. Once the athlete can perform the skill and understands the game or race plan you can move on to teaching confidence. And generally that means having the athlete play with a goal in mind. And the goal is not to play and see if they can win. The goal has to be more specific.
How? Cultivate moral dominance. Knowing that your skills are better, equal or slightly inferior. Knowing that you have a better or equal understanding of the game. Expect to win. Demand from yourself the best execution of your skills. Make every play like it is the last one of your life. All the time.
And practice this. In practice. Every time.
If you are the better, stronger team then act like it. Dominate.
If you are the weaker, less experienced team then make the other team work for every point.
Refuse to lose.
And have fun with it.
Simple Definition of confidence
: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
: a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
: the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true