One of the topics that parents ask me about most often is confidence. They can see their daughter’s potential: “if she just had more confidence…” they say, “then she could excel.”
Confidence can be surprisingly tricky. Even when your athlete increases her skills, and rises in competition level, she can still struggle with confidence. She is not alone. All athletes, at every level, are affected at times by self-doubt, mistakes, and fear that they don’t have the ability to meet the demands of their competition.
The concept of confidence itself can be as elusive as the experience. Is it an emotion? (“I FEEL confident today”) Or is it a characteristic? (“I HAVE confidence” or “I AM confident”) And where does confidence go when athletes exclaim that they have LOST it?
Here’s the thing: Confidence is all of those things. Confidence is a product of feelings and thought patterns, which together form a BELIEF in one’s ability to be successful, both generally and in particular situations. Confidence can come and go depending on the situation (state confidence), or it can be a stable positive belief about one’s abilities that applies across all situations (trait confidence). But more important than the murkiness in describing the concept, is how clear we are on the benefits of cultivating confidence.
Research consistently supports what many parents see at home: Confidence contributes to more successful performances, higher levels of motivation, less anxiety, and higher satisfaction with sports. When an athlete is confident, she is having more fun! Perhaps even better, confidence is also related to higher self-esteem, which in turn has many benefits in and out of sports.
Unfortunately, some research indicates that girls, in general, report lower levels of confidence than boys. That makes it is even more important for parents to intentionally find ways to boost and maintain their daughter’s confidence.
The good news is that sports are a great avenue for doing just that. Those who participate in sport have been shown to have higher levels of confidence, compared to those who don’t. That means girls who are involved in sports are already well on their way to increasing their confidence. What’s more, girls participating in ZGiRLS have an even better advantage, given that the ZGiRLS Curriculum™ includes an entire unit designed to help girls constructively build their own self-confidence.
Though it is essential for your daughter to learn how to cultivate her own feelings of confidence, building your daughter’s confidence can also be an interactive process with other people in her life. Not surprisingly, parents play an important role in increasing both state and trait confidence in their kids.
Here are a few tips to help bolster your daughter’s confidence:
- Give feedback on her improvement. Find something specific to mention rather than just making a general statement.
- Show her video of her accomplishments, improvement, and skills. Encourage her to make a “highlight reel” linking clips together.
- Reminisce with her about her past accomplishments, and get her talking about how she worked to achieve those accomplishments.
- Remind her about everything she does to prepare for a competition or performance. Encourage her to write a list, and be sure she includes things that are outside of practice as well (good sleep, healthy nutrition, etc.)
- Encourage positive self-talk and affirmations.
(The ZGiRLS Curriculum™ includes a variety of additional helpful tips for parents to support their athletes in the development and stabilization of confidence.)
Confidence-building is a complicated and broad topic. To learn more, join me on Monday, January 18th, at 6:00/9:00pm PST/EST for a live webinar that will highlight information from self-efficacy theory (a more specific type of confidence) to provide further suggestions for how parents can be effective sources and assistants in building their daughter’s confidence.
To register for our January 18th webinar, CLICK HERE!