How to Build Confidence

    Many of you may look at the title of this post and think, “Oh thank goodness, someone out there knows how to help my athlete gain confidence!”  Well, it may not be that easy.  There is no quick fix, or perfect words to immediately fix your female athlete’s insecurity or lack of aggressiveness.  If it was that easy, every athlete with pure talent and the best potential would exceed the limits of their success.  If it was that easy, we would all have All American’s on our teams.  Although there is not a quick fix to gaining confidence, you can help build it.

Whether you are a parent pushing your daughter, or a coach attempting to showcase an
athlete’s potential, the key is patience. Female athletes respond emotionally before they exude their physical talents.  If this leaves some of you confused, it’s perfectly normal.  A female’s first response to most situations is through emotion.  “I didn’t strike out the worst batter, I feel frustrated,” “I didn’t take the shot to win the game, I feel upset”.  Most coaches and parents don’t understand
that emotion leads our physical state, which further invokes our mental game.  When something negative happens in
our game, when our potential is questioned, we back off.  Unlike male athletes, our first reaction
isn’t to prove people wrong, but rather to fall in line and simply “go through the motions”.  Please don’t look at this
as a negative aspect of the female athlete; it’s good to be emotional, however, it’s necessary to learn what emotions are appropriate in the game.

If you ask a female athlete about how negative performance makes them feel, you will hear them say, “I’m upset about my game; I was frustrated that I didn’t perform the task like I knew I could.”  Frustration.  I have coached hundreds of athletes and after bad games and the first thing I always ask is how they felt about their performance in a bad game; about 99% of the time, they say they were frustrated.  I cannot stress this fact enough: Frustration is the worst emotion a female athlete can have about her game.  Frustration digs an athlete in a hole where they can only focus on the negative and struggle to find the positive in their performance.

Let’s face it; you may be as frustrated as they are.  You are their coach, parent, mentor, and feel for them more than they can understand.  Frustration may be your first emotion too, but it is your job to bring them out of that emotion.  It is your job to help them focus on the positive aspects of their game, regardless of their performance.  There isn’t a game that your athlete plays that doesn’t have some form of positive feat.  They may have gone 0-3, but they blocked a ball that saved a run from scoring.  Your athlete won’t recognize that play, but you have to bring it up.  You have to help your athlete remember the positive aspects of their
game to keep the growth of their confidence.

Now when you tell your athlete to “stop being frustrated and play like you know how,” you will more than likely get a negative reaction, which in turn, can make them more frustrated.  Now, you may think I am crazy for saying this, but your athlete needs to get mad.  Your athlete needs to turn their frustration into anger which is a workable emotion for game time.  This doesn’t mean I support athletes being mean people, but they need to play mad.  When female athletes get mad, all other questioning emotions fly out the window and you have an aggressive, confident athlete that you may have never seen in prior situations.  Anger helps an
athlete to focus on the game without thinking about all the little things that normally bother them.  It is also important to help your athlete remember that there is a difference in playing mad, and playing with arrogance.  Playing mad implies that the athlete pushes herself to be better than her best, playing arrogant implies that an athlete is cocky without reason.  As simple as it sounds to acknowledge the difference, female athletes struggle with the idea of “playing mad”.  They worry about what others will think and what reputation they will build as an aggressive athlete.  They need the reassurance and confidence from you that her performance is good
, and that this kind of reputation is good.  I have always told my athletes, “be a nice person off the field, but give them a reason to talk about you on the field.”

Now your second thought, “Well my daughter is a nice girl; I don’t think she knows how to play mad.”  This is a good point,
a lot of us our nice girls.  A great way to promote confidence and push aggressiveness is to have your daughter compete against the athlete playing the same position.  Most female athletes play the game their way, but don’t think about their opponent.  The best way to maintain aggressiveness and the best game out of her is to make her compete no matter what.  Say your athlete is a short stop, have her watch the opposing short stops warm-ups and game as they are playing.  This will not only keep your athlete’s head in the game, but also promote competition to be better than their starter; if she hits a single, your athlete wants to hit a double; if she dives for a ball
, your athlete will dive and make the play, etc.

Aside from making competition, have your athlete create goals for herself.  Say she is a pitcher starting the game.  What does she want to accomplish?  Have her set goals, in example, where she only allows 2 hits
per game, 1 walk per game, and strives for 6 strikeouts.  Creating competition within herself will only better her skills and help her to challenge herself in playing to her full potential.

When you love the game, you love it for all the right reasons.  When the game is your life, it is a tremendous feeling to play aggressive, with confidence, and make a name for yourself.  I implore you to support your athlete in bringing out the best of her abilities, and by not playing nice, so to speak.


Key Facts for
Building Confidence:

  • Play mad,
    it’s the best emotion a female athlete can have when they are in the game.
  • Focus on
    the positive attributes of your athletes game.
  • Find
    competition within the game and make it personal.
  • Make
    personal goals to achieve higher standards


  1. Jodi Murphy says:

    I think a little heat under the collar helps, but you can’t get so mad you lose focus and concentration. Kicking and screaming won’t help you play better, but kicking yourself in the pants sometimes spurs you to perform better.

  2. lesley says:

    there have been situation occurred when i completely lost my confidence on my abilities. but thank God i have come out of it and stand up again

  3. Shannon says:

    I agree with this article, especially that girls play different with their reaction to prove people wrong. Getting mad is easily one of the best way to build confidence because that gives you a goal and purpose for your competitive actions. As a coach, they play a big role in building up the confidence in the players. If you have a coach nagging constantly on the kids and not giving them any encouragement at all, they can’t play to their full potential with confidence. I wonder how much better all female athletes would play if they had the confidence that male players always seem to have!

  4. Mike Taylor says:

    Great article! Opened my eyes a little toward what goes on in my daughter’s head. Any tips I can share with her on how to “play mad”? I get the make it personal part.

    1. Keri Casas says:

      Thanks so much Mike! Sometimes girls have a hard time finding the emotion to get mad, especially if they are nice in general. :) If they can find things to trigger that emotion, they will be able to channel it more often. If she can go back to a moment where she was mad, not frustrated, but “seeing red”, she will find that focus. Ex. she got in a fight with a sibling, she struck out looking, you told her to clean her room, etc. I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any further questions!

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