The most important quality that any athlete can possess is self-confidence, hands down. Even an athlete who has all the potential in the world is not going to perform well if he doesn’t believe in himself and his abilities. He’ll, instead, create a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, playing poorly simply because he’s riddled with self-doubt.
Obviously, you want your players to believe in themselves and to perform accordingly, but how do you make that happen? How do you build self-confidence in young players? While a lot of it depends on the player himself, there certainly are some steps you can take to plant the seeds of self-belief.
Step #1: Teach them to Tune Out Negativity
First of all, teach your players not to listen to negativity, no matter where it comes from. Explain to them that there will always be people who attempt to tear them down and to tell them they CAN’T do something but that they need to learn to tune out those people.
Tell your players that they can do anything if they simply believe that they can and to surround themselves only with those people who support and encourage them and who believe in their dreams and their potential.
Step #2: Provide them with Positive Examples
Another thing you can do is to surround your young athletes with positive examples. If you know or have access to an athlete or other person who has overcome great obstacles and found success, have that person come speak at a practice.
If you don’t have access to anyone like that, find books, videos, and other encouraging material that provides your players with proof that people can do incredible things if they just believe in themselves and are persistent.
Step #3: Eliminate Negative Language
While it’s true that players will often have to deal with negativity from others, they’ll also have to deal with it from themselves, and that can be even more damaging than discouragement from others.
Make it a rule that players are not allowed to use words like “can’t” or “impossible.” Never allow them to call themselves names or to get too down on themselves. Focus on building them up and on having them use positive language. Before you know it, their words will affect their attitudes and their abilities.
These three very simple strategies can make a world of difference for the young athletes in your life. Start using them now, and before you know it, you should have a crop of confident young athletes with go-get-it attitudes who will be virtually unstoppable once they step out on that ice. And, the best part is that this confidence can carry over into their adult lives as well, enabling them to have success in everything they do and put their minds to.