5 Ways Athletes Can Develop Belief in Themselves (Plus a Tip for Parents)

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

A really common scenario I find myself in as a volleyball coach and Confidence Coach for female athletes is this:

Parents reporting that they feel like their athlete daughter doesn’t believe in herself. 

“She’s so talented, but she doesn’t believe in her abilities!”
“She doesn’t believe in herself when the competition gets hard.”
“She’ll play well in practice, but in a game she doesn’t trust herself.”

Confidence, when it comes down to it, is the belief and trust in oneself. 

And we all have various levels of confidence and belief in our abilities depending on what we’re doing. 

It goes without saying that we have more confidence in the things that we have the most experience and training in. 

What’s perplexing to most parents and coaches is when we see athletes who should have confidence in themselves because they have the abilities, talent, and training, yet they don’t show up that way when the step on the court/field! 

So, that’s what we’re diving into today.

Below you’ll discover how athletes can develop belief in themselves, harness their inner power, and show up confidently on and off the court/field! 

#1: Recall Past Experiences 

Two strategies I love using with athletes to help remind them of their strengths include the Highlight Reel and an Evidence Journal. 

The Highlight Reel includes having athletes write down their top 10 playing moments from the past. These could be games, practices, or individual plays. Athletes then visualize these, or just review them every day as a reminder that they have performed well in the past and have everything within them to do it again. 

Similarly, and Evidence Journal involves athletes writing down 1-3 pieces of evidence every day that proves they are capable of what they are working to accomplish. These could be small things (Ex. I passed a ball perfectly to target in practice today) or bigger things (Ex. I scored the game-winning shot). They can also be positive feelings or emotions they are experiencing. 

What we focus on expands, so having athletes focus on what they’ve already done to prove that they are strong, powerful, and capable is an effective way to cultivate the belief they can do it again. 

#2: Know Your Superpowers

All the superheroes have their “thing”, right?!

Wonder Woman has superior strength, speed, and agility (and can talk to animals). 
The Hulk has incredible super-human strength. 
Spiderman can spin webs like nobody’s business. 

You get the picture. 

We all have our strengths, too. Athletes need to hone in on what those 1-2 things are that they are exceptionally good at. Focusing on those (instead of all the skills) helps build confidence and belief in self as they narrow their focus and spend more time cultivating their strengths.

#3: Confront the Beliefs Holding You Back

This one takes some time!

However, athletes that are aware of the limiting thoughts and beliefs that hold them back are one step closer to changing those thoughts and breaking free of them. 

Our thoughts create our reality, and many athletes are carrying around limiting thoughts that are stopping their potential. 

Having athletes pause to identify them is the first step. Thoughts like…

“I’m not good at defense.”
“I always choke under pressure.”
“I’m too slow/short/tall to do that.”
“I’m not strong enough.”

Thoughts like these are bound to become true! Adding “…yet” to the end of thoughts like “I’m not good at that skill” is powerful in helping the athlete continue working, rather than just give up and accept failure.

So is changing the thought completely! 

Ex. “I always choke under pressure” can change to “I am calm and focused under pressure.”

We become what we think about most!

#4: Do Something Powerful

Doing something that makes us feel powerful reminds us of our power and increases our belief in ourselves. 

This could be as simple as pushing through a hard workout, learning a new skill, or keeping a daily commitment to yourself to visualize. 

Anything that takes an athlete out of their comfort zone or proves that they are strong and capable will do the trick!

#5: Practice Strong Body Language

When we use strong body language, it signals to our brain that we are okay and we’ve got this! 

The mind/body connection is strong and powerful. 

Athletes can practice strong body language by holding their heads high, shoulders back, and making eye contact.

Uncrossing arms and putting hands on hips is also a strong, confident position that signals confidence to the brain.

Bonus For Parents: Process and Effort Over Outcomes

Many times, athletes report a lack of confidence and belief in themselves because they are overly concerned with outcomes and performance. 

They are afraid to fail or perform poorly, and as a result hesitate, hold back, and don’t play their best. 

The most effective way you can cultivate confidence in your athlete daughter is to praise progress and effort over outcomes. 

This looks like recognizing things that are in your athlete’s control: attitude, effort, preparation, ability to be a good teammate, take risks, and respond to failure. 

Rather than: winning at all costs, points scored, pointing out mistakes, or putting fear/pressure in athletes by telling them that they need to get the win (all things that are out of their control). 

The best part is that when athletes relax and focus on what is in their control, they usually end up playing really well, putting themselves and their team at a greater opportunity for a win!


There you have it! 5 ways (plus a bonus strategy for parents) to help athletes cultivate confidence and belief in themselves!

If you want more tips like this sent straight to your athlete’s phone weekly, sign up for our Confidence Booster Text Membership! Three times a week, athletes get actionable and proven tips, strategies, and motivation delivered from me right to their phone so that they can implement regular mental training in their week! 

One of our Text Membership subscribers recently sent us this, “Hi. I am a mom as well as a volleyball coach. I love what you have been sending!”

Sign up here!

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