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How to Build a Child’s Confidence In Sports: 8 Tips

Posted by Jordan Snider on Jun 13, 2024 10:15:35 AM

When it comes to sports, it's not just about who crosses the finish line first or scores the most goals — it's about building confidence, one game at a time. 

For young athletes, every dribble, stroke, or sprint can be a mini life lesson wrapped in fun and sweat. Sports teach them about resilience, the power of teamwork, and the sheer thrill of pushing their limits.

But here’s the kicker: parents and coaches are the real MVPs behind the scenes. Your cheers from the sidelines, high-fives after a tough game, and words of encouragement during practice fuel these young stars to shine brighter.

Having nerves before a big game is perfectly normal, but it’s all about building that confidence. 
So, let’s make confidence the name of the game — here are 10 tips to help you build your child’s confidence in sports. 

1. Praise Effort Over Outcome

Hey, it’s not just about the scoreboard! 

When you praise the effort rather than the outcome, you teach young athletes that the journey is as important as the destination. This shift in focus builds a solid foundation for a growth mindset, where improvement and personal bests take the spotlight over trophies and titles. 


Encouraging kids to value their hard work and dedication helps them appreciate the sweat behind their skills, whether they win or lose. 

Next time you’re on the sidelines, try swapping the typical “Great win!” with a hearty “I loved how you kept pushing even when it got tough!” or “Your teamwork today was top-notch!” 

So, let's make every shout, cheer, and high-five a celebration of effort and watch as our young athletes grow into great players and great people.

2. Set Achievable Goals

Aim high, but start small.

Setting realistic, measurable, and timely goals is like drawing a treasure map for young athletes — they know exactly where the X marks the spot and what steps they need to take to get there. 

This clarity is crucial because when goals are clear and within reach, every practice feels purposeful, and every achievement feels like a victory.

When you help a young soccer player set a goal to "improve passing accuracy," break it down further into attainable targets: "Complete 10 accurate passes in practice this week." This approach makes the goal seem more achievable and allows for regular celebrations of success, which is a major confidence booster.

Achieving goals step-by-step helps build a can-do attitude. Each small victory adds up, and before you know it, these young stars are not just hitting their targets but setting new ones. It’s about creating a positive cycle where success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds more success. 

Let’s help them set the bar high, one achievable goal at a time!

3. Help Them Overcome Fear of Failure and Encourage Risk-Taking

Encouraging young athletes to take risks and embrace failure as a learning opportunity is crucial for their growth and confidence. 

When kids understand that it's okay to fail, they're more likely to try new techniques and push their limits, which is where real growth happens.

To promote this mindset, coaches, and parents must create an environment where mistakes are seen as normal and necessary. Celebrate the attempt as much as the achievement. 

For example, if a young gymnast tries a new flip and doesn’t land perfectly, focus on the courage it took to attempt it rather than the fall. Highlight what was done well and what can be improved next time.


Encouraging kids to step out of their comfort zones can start with setting "challenge goals" alongside their achievable goals. These might be stretch goals that are hard to reach but exciting to attempt. 

Whether trying to score a goal in soccer from outside the penalty box or swimming an extra lap under time, pushing these boundaries can transform their game and self-belief.

Let’s cheer for the leaps, not just the landings!

4. Create a Supportive Environment

The atmosphere we create for young athletes can significantly impact their confidence and performance. A supportive, positive environment acts like a safety net, giving them the freedom to explore their abilities and push their boundaries without fear of harsh judgment.

To build this kind of environment, focus on encouragement over criticism. 

Yes, constructive feedback is essential, but how it's delivered makes all the difference. Instead of pointing out what went wrong, try to highlight what the athlete did right and how they can build on it. 

For example, after a soccer game, instead of saying, "You missed too many passes," you could say, "You made some good attempts at passes! Let's work on your accuracy during our next practice."
By nurturing a supportive environment, we're not just coaching better athletes—we're raising happier, more confident individuals. Let's make every practice a place where young stars feel valued, supported, and inspired to achieve their best.

5. Emphasize the Value of Practice

Practice makes progress! 

Stepping up to practice regularly is a game-changer for young athletes. It helps them sharpen their skills and boost their self-assurance. Each session is an opportunity to improve, and their confidence grows with every improvement.

Making practice both productive and enjoyable is essential. Start each session with clear, achievable goals to give purpose to the drills and keep motivation high. Mix up the routine with different drills and games to keep things fresh and engaging, helping athletes develop a broad range of skills while having fun.


For team sports include activities that build teamwork and cooperation, enhance social skills, and make practice sessions more enjoyable. Remember, always celebrate the effort and dedication athletes put into practice, not just the outcomes.

6. Teach Positive Self-Talk

Champion the mind, champion the game.

The power of words is undeniable, especially the ones we say to ourselves. Negative self-talk can be a major roadblock, potentially derailing performance and diminishing confidence in young athletes. It’s crucial to transform this inner dialogue into a force for good.

Encouraging young athletes to engage in positive self-talk is transformative. Instead of getting bogged down by thoughts like "I can't do this," they learn to push back with empowering affirmations such as "I can improve with practice." This simple shift in perspective not only boosts their morale but also enhances their ability to handle pressure and setbacks.

For instance, when faced with a challenging task, they might tell themselves, "I am learning and getting better every day." Or, after a tough game, instead of focusing on mistakes, they could reflect, "I gave my best, and that’s what matters." 

7. Promote Persistence and Resilience

In sports, as in life, the road to success is often paved with challenges and setbacks. Teaching young athletes the value of persistence and resilience is crucial for their development, not just as players but as individuals who can face any difficulty with strength and grace.

Persistence in sports means showing up, giving your best effort, and not backing down when things get tough. It’s about running that extra lap when your legs are tired or practicing that difficult move again and again until you get it right. 

This relentless pursuit of improvement instills a sense of resilience, empowering young athletes to bounce back from failures stronger than before.

To inspire these young champions, share stories of famous athletes epitomizing persistence and resilience. 

Consider the story of Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball team yet went on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His career is a testament to the power of not giving up, even when the odds seem stacked against you. 

Or look at Serena Williams, whose journey through injuries and setbacks to multiple Grand Slam wins illustrates her incredible resilience and fighting spirit.

8. Prioritize Fun!

Let the games begin — and let them be fun! 

When sports are enjoyable, young athletes are more likely to stay engaged, maintain their interest, and build confidence. Fun must remain at the heart of youth sports. 

After all, if it's not fun, why play?


Keeping sports fun and engaging is about emphasizing enjoyment over competition. This doesn't mean ignoring the competitive aspect, but it does mean fostering a love for the game itself. 

Encourage coaches and parents to celebrate playful moments and inject a sense of humor and light-heartedness into practices and games. Activities like end-of-practice games, themed practice days, or team outings can keep the mood uplifting and make every session something athletes look forward to.

Remember, when children enjoy what they're doing, they're more relaxed, open to learning, and likely to exhibit natural skill improvement without the heavy weight of performance pressure. 
So, let’s keep the focus on fun and watch young athletes thrive in an environment where they play because they truly love the game.

Help Your Child Build Confidence in Sports By Signing Them Up For Summer Camp

Summer camp is the perfect place for your child to build confidence in sports — let’s just make sure you choose the right one!

The Future Stars Camp Comparison Checklist lets you easily compare and contrast different camp costs, activities, dates, and locations. This way, you can make an educated decision for your child and ensure they have the perfect camp experience. 
Access the Camp Comparison Checklist today and find a summer camp your child will love!

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