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NEGATIVE SELF-TALK? : Encourage your young athlete and build confidence

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Athletes often use negative self-talk after making a mistake. It might be something like “I stink today. I can’t hit this pitcher” or “I can’t putt today”. This negative self-talk destroys confidence. It is extremely important, as an athlete, to recognize negative self-talk and replace it with a positive answer, or to use a successful mental image from a past performance to combat this destructive behavior.

Confident athletes choose to focus their thoughts on things that help them feel confident; inconsistent athletes dwell on mistakes or struggle with negative self-talk.

Teach your little #athlete that they have a choice in what they focus on prior to competition and after a mistake (error, bad shot, etc.). They basically have two choices: to focus on failure (the mistake) or to focus on success.

As the parent of an athlete, it would be more productive to encourage your athlete by saying something like “focus on the process”, instead of calling attention to mistakes or taking it out on the #coach or umpires.

Also, try to focus on fundamentals after a mistake, like “look the ball in”, “trust your stroke”, or “see the flight of the ball”.



Coach Robert Dunham owns Heads Up Sports Counseling LLC, is certified MGCP, and is a softball coach and pitching instructor.

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