Confidence in Youth Sports Defined

| December 10, 2011 | Comments (1)

The great Joe Paterno once opined that while

we can’t minimize the importance of

pride, loyalty, discipline, heart and mind,

 “confidence is the key to all the locks.” 

So I was talking with a five-year-old girl today who had just returned from an hour tennis lesson. During the course of our conversation, I asked her if she had fun on the court, to which she responded “Oh Yeah.” Thinking I could go a step further in the conversation, I inquired as to which stroke she had the most confidence in. Her response was, “what does confidence mean?”


Great question. What is confidence?


In the context of my question to this precious girl (with her two front adult teeth just pushing through the gums), confidence was really synonymous with “strongest.”  But in talking with some of the athletic adults who happened to be hanging around, it became apparent that the term could really take on different connotations when talking sports.


In once sense, it could very well mean having no fear.  So on the basketball court, your athlete has the confidence to take the shots. On the lacrosse field, she will not hesitate to take the ball all the way in and attempt the goal.


Going one step further, confidence can also mean the willingness to take risk. On the tennis court, your athlete will forgo a more tentative strategy of keeping the ball in play in favor of risking the passing shot or pounding down the winner. In other words, aggressive play is well within her comfort range.


No question that there are many more definitions. Yet, no matter the definition, interpretation or context, the term “confidence” most often connotes a positive quality that that inures to the great benefit of your young athlete.


Indeed, some children naturally exude confidence. Yet, experience shows that a focus on the fundamentals of any sport is sure to help develop and enhance confidence. It is therefore in the best interest of your young athlete to find a sports environment that places fundamentals front and center. As a parent or coach, you can then take comfort in knowing that you are offering her the greatest possible chance to feel good about her abilities.

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Category: girls, New Posts, Parenting, teens, tweens

About Barb Lazarus: Barb Lazarus is the owner and founder of Game On! Sports Camps 4 Girls, multi-week summer sports day and overnight camps just for girls. ( With a mission that includes empowerment through exposure to and development in a multitude of sports, girls of all athletic abilities, grades preschool through 10th, experience hours of pure fun with the opportunity to grow as an athlete and a person. Barb graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan (1982) and a J.D. from Loyola School of Law (1985), after which she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago office. She went on to grow her own thriving media relations business for over 12 years before shedding her corporate clothing to pursue her dream – Game On! – and the chance to give back to girls sports. Barb is also the author of Game On! Sports Girl Talk,, a blog addressing issues relating to the participation of young girls in sports and fitness, and a proud partner of the Women Talk Sports Network and Pretty Tough Media. Barb is the proud mother of two, a lifelong athlete, and just plain passionate about sports & fitness for young girls as well as contributing to the fan base of women’s pro and collegiate sports. View author profile.

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  1. Carrie Kirby says:

    The GREAT Joe Paterno? Really??

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