Many female athletes struggle with a lack of confidence which can prevent them from being competitive and reaching their full potential.
When athletes feel confident, they’re focused on the task, feel comfortable, and commit fully to decisions – all of which can help them perform well. On the other hand, when they don’t feel confident, they often doubt themselves, feel nervous, focus on the wrong things, and make poor decisions, which can result in poorer performances.
As a mom, you can have a huge influence on your daughter’s confidence with sports. But, how do you do it?
Today, we’ll talk about how to build confidence in young female athletes with our special guest, Holli. Holli is a dedicated sports mom to Sienna, a middle school basketball player. Just like every young athlete, Sienna has had her fair share of ups and downs; she gets frustrated when she doesn’t perform well and her confidence takes a hit. But, Holli is able to help her daughter overcome these challenges, helping her achieve success in her chosen sport.
Let’s dive in!
Raising a Confident Athlete: Moms Play Key Role
Confidence is one of the most important characteristics that a female athlete can have at any age, sport, or skill level. Unfortunately, for some players, confidence can be hard to foster especially if they aren’t in the right environment. When your child decides to start playing a sport, it’s crucial for you, as a parent, to put in the effort into helping them develop their confidence.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways for moms to help build confidence in their young athlete. Although on court learning and skills development are important parts of helping a player become confident in their games, there are several things that you can help them with off court that can have a significant impact on building confidence.
- Invest in your child’s mental training. Just as you invest in your child’s skills training, equipment, coaching, and other things necessary to improve their game, make sure to invest in your child’s mental training, too.
Holli, who recognized that Sienna needed help strengthening her mental game, offered the option of a mental training program to her daughter who, to her surprise, agreed immediately, “I was kind of surprised how quickly she agreed to it. You know, it’s almost like she recognized it as a lifeline.”
As much as your child may love the game, there will come a time when the pressure becomes too much. There may come a point where they experience a lot of anxiety about their performance and they would get frustrated with themselves if they don’t perform well. They would start to feel the pressure to be the best athlete they can be. To help make sure that your child doesn’t buckle under the pressure, help them build their confidence through mental training.
“Giving her the resources to invest in her mental training kind of made her realize this is really important,” Holli shares, “So, right away, that was really helpful.”
2. Remind your child that they are not alone. Remind your child that they’re not alone; that other athletes struggle from time to time, too. As Holli says, “I think just the realization that there’s a group of people out there that are athletes, just like her, that are struggling with similar things. I think that alone in itself, was really helpful for her. Like, it’s not just me, kind of thing.”
3. Foster healthy communication. Good communication is important to building confidence. Most sports hinge on good communication. The ability for players to effectively communicate both with each other and with their coaches can make all the difference in their confidence level. If an athlete ever experiences self-doubt, self-consciousness, fear, anxiety, or any other negative emotion, it’s important that they feel comfortable expressing their concerns so that they can learn how to work through them.
As a mom, you need to foster healthy communication between you and your child. Good communication between you and your child is important for developing a positive relationship and it will make it easier for you to talk about difficult topics.
4. Focus on team building. Give your child the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with their teammates off court. When players have a strong relationship off court, they are more likely to work well together on the court. Trusting their teammates and having a good relationship with them can help athletes feel more confident in their skills and ability to accomplish plays.
Personally, Holli has seen an improvement in Sienna’s relationship with her teammates after joining the program, too. Apparently, her teammates have noticed the shift as well. According to Holli, “It’s always perfect, but I would say, percentage wise, it’s up in the 90s percent better. Her teammates have noticed a real improvement.”
With the program, Sienna has really stepped up as a leader and she’s more positive, which in turn has a positive impact on her team, too. “So, her being able to stay calm, and be a leader has made a big difference in her team just in their success. You know, like winning games versus losing games, just because of her positive leadership.”
5. Teach them that mistakes happen – and that they shouldn’t dwell on them. No one’s perfect, and nothing that anyone does in life is 100% successful. Athletes are no different – even the pros make mistakes from time to time. Teaching your child that even professionals miss shots can help them recognize that mistakes and fear of failure isn’t something that should hold them back or get in the way of building confidence.
“She got to play up at a high school level on a trip out to Indiana. They were playing big girls that were really good and they got destroyed,” Holli shares of Sienna’s experience, “What I found really exciting was that she stayed really positive, no matter what. And she was like, ‘That was a great opportunity to learn’. So, she was looking for the positive and experience rather than, you know, dwelling on what mistake she made.”
6. Create a supportive environment. When female athletes are in an environment that encourages and supports them without question, they will find it much easier to be competitive and have confidence in their game.
As a mom, create a supportive environment for your child. Even when they’re frustrated and venting, don’t take things personally and understand that those kinds of behaviors are often a cry for help. Give them a safe space where they can unload all of their frustrations, just as Holli has done for Sienna, “When she dumps all of her stuff on me, all her frustrations, that’s just really a safe place for her to vent her frustrations. And that’s not a bad thing. And I shouldn’t take that personal.”
7. Remind them to have fun. If you notice that your child is no longer having fun, or that they’re starting to crack under the pressure, it may be time to step back and reevaluate the situation.
“It got to the point where she was starting to bite all our heads off on the ride home. Even if they won, she was upset with herself because her performance wasn’t up to her standards of what she thought she should be doing,” Holli shares, “So we pretty much told her ‘Look, if this is going to be the case, I’m not going to drive you to these games and deal with this abuse on the way there and on the way back. It’s just not fun for you, it’s not fun for me, and you’re just not going to be able to do basketball anymore.”
Of course, it’s important to take sports seriously. But, remind your child to have fun! When athletes are having fun, they’re more likely to let go of their self-doubt and they can fully immerse themselves in the experience. When insecurity and self-doubt aren’t getting in the way, there’s more chances for their ingrained skills to come out.
The Bottom Line
It takes a special kind of person to fully commit to the unique lifestyle that comes with being a sports mom. On any given Sunday, when other moms might be catching up on their to-do lists or relaxing, sports moms are hustling from one game to another, searching for missing water bottles and cheering on their kids from the sidelines.
Remember: Your child’s mental game is their biggest competitive advantage! As a mom, you play a key role in building your child’s confidence – you can either make it or break it! – and there are many things you can do off court to help build it.
- Join our FREE training for Sports Moms – How To Strengthen Your Athlete Daughter’s Mental Game So She Believes In Herself As Much As You Do.
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