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Blog by sports coach UK’s Development Officer Liz Burkinshaw
I realised something this week while giving encouragement across the court at my Year 6 netball team. They have a fear of shooting goals. Even though they know how and have practised hundreds of times. They are not confident when shooting goals in competitions. They fear it in case they miss. They fear embarrassment and being disappointed. They are not confident in their abilities. So they don’t try. Rather than tactical and technical encouragement I encouraged them to ‘Have a Go!’ It worked. They had a go and were successful. The more they were successful the less I had to ask them to have a go. They developed their own capacity to have a go. They became more confident. They had overcome their initial fear and felt more confident in that game, however I know as a coach I will need to continue to foster their confidence and self belief. This is my role as a coach.
Many adult participants who are new or returning back to sport have this same lack of self confidence. They fear being embarrassed. They fear looking foolish. They fear not being able to do it! So they don’t have a go. For many potential new participants this means that the first step to attending a session is overcoming their lack of self confidence to do so.
Confidence is not a constant. It fluctuates. It comes and goes. It can be easily gained but also easily lost. We become more confident when we are more familiar and have less fear. Trying a new activity and being successful helps us conquer fear and build confidence. Much of learning to be confident is learning to overcome fear.
So what can coaches do to build self confidence in their participants? Some ideas are simple. Know something about each participant. Know their goals and reasons for attending your session. Find out what they believe their barriers (or fears) might be. Praise meaningfully. Praise achievement of goals. Acknowledge effort and commitment. Encourage an atmosphere that supports having a go. Create small opportunities to be successful, a simple skill or short game. Create opportunities for participant to contribute to your session. More simple ideas can be found at sports coach UK in the Top Tips for New Participants resource.
It is suggested that confident participants are more likely to continue to return to your sessions. It therefore seems appropriate that coaches should think about what their existing participant’s fears may be that are affecting their self confidence. From that point, coaches will be better equipped to help participants overcome fear and become more confidence. Regularly planning activities or re emphasising some coaching activities with a confidence building focus is an easy way that coaches could enhance their sessions.
It goes without saying that coaches may themselves have to overcome some confidence issues in trying something new within their sessions. They will also have to overcome their fears of failure and getting it wrong. So why don’t you try something in your next session that builds confidence with your participants. So go on - Have a Go!
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