How to Improve Your Players Self-Confidence

By Courtney Dabney

A team's overall confidence is a reflection of the individuals who combine to make up that team. And if one player is lacking in self-confidence then so is their team. So how does a coach improve the self-confidence of a timid or fragile player who shuts down after making a mistake?

While there have been many solutions presented, it seems that the same problems still arise for novice and veteran coaches alike, dealing with the thorn of self-confidence. Below are some suggestions and techniques that could help improve player confidence and raise the morale on your team.

Create situations of success

While in situations of development and practice, a Coach should create an illusion of burden for the player lacking in self-confidence; doing this brings about the fearful state of mind that has been hindering the player in question. The reason to bring about this negative feeling is to force the player to address and deal with the issue head on, while countering it with the positive feeling of success right there on the spot.

The player will achieve this by successfully completing a premeditated task set up by the coach, in which the only way a player could fail, was if he didn't go all out and give it his best effort to achieve success.

An example would be: Giving the player the responsibility of whether or not his team will run sprints or go home early after an already grueling practice; by having him have to make a certain amount of free throws under pressure, or have him run a set of sprints in an allotted time, but no matter what you choose to do, make sure the outcome is fixed to allow the player to succeed and be the hero. As his teammates give him praise and positive reinforcement, he will have gained a boost in his battle with self- confidence.

Key Note: After doing this a few times the player will start to gain confidence on and off the court, but a Coach must continue to enforce this state of mind daily until the player accepts it as a habit. Repetition is key while doing this method. /

Make the player with low self-confidence become a vocal leader.

When a student takes a speech class, he or she is facing a metaphorical elephant in life that many people from children to adults struggle with. What is this elephant? The elephant represents a fear of speaking up and voicing their opinions in front of crowds or fellow peers. In basketball having a fear of being vocal and speaking up can be hindering to a player and that fear must be overcome as soon as possible.

I have played with and coached players that were afraid to speak up and allow their voices to be heard, and not only did this disable their individual games, it also had a negative effect on the rest of the team overall, in practice and game situations.

A player who is not vocal on offense or defense could negatively affect the rest of his or her team, this in turn both robs themselves, and their teammates of a crucial action that might be the difference in the outcome of a tense, pressure filled game.

Coaches know that wins and losses in basketball games comes down to the tiniest of details, such as which team was the most vocal on the court. So a player that is afraid to speak up, must be reconditioned to understand that her vocal activity is just as powerful as a made basket or a great block on defense.

A coach should create a "vocal leader position" (all season long) in which he would place his most vocally challenged players to be the one to lead all drills and stretches in practice, making them call out plays etc. . . Will this make the player uncomfortable at first? Naturally of course, but after a few weeks or so you should notice a positive rise within the player's confidence levels of speaking up on and off the court.

And to further implement vocal confidence a coach might give the players specific challenges such as approaching random administrative staff and other students on campus to introduce themselves and ask them to attend their upcoming game or scrimmage. This will help the players learn how to approach people with confidence, and may lead to more attendance at games along with more booster contributions from staff, parents, and students.

Key note: Basketball as we all know is fast paced and full of chatter, the suggestions mentioned in the prior passage is designed to get players over the fear of talking in front of strangers and crowds and should be enforced daily. There are all types of ways to build a solid foundation of self-confidence, and a player who is not afraid to be vocal, won't be afraid to take that game changing charge or yell out while on help side defense. And a full roster of vocal players is what all coaches should aim to have.

A mistake is only a lesson in disguise

Players hate making mistakes no matter the skill level there on, but once a mistake is made there are only two options... Pout or learn. When I'm running a camp or personal training a player, I always make sure to remind the player that when they make a mistake, they should figure out the lesson in it and instead of whining or getting upset, think about what you learned and how to begin improving on that immediately. Once I get players to understand how to take the lesson from the error, I notice an extreme change in their confidence levels overall.

In closing... There are many ways to build self-confidence, and a coach has to be willing to be patient with a shy or timid player in order to get the most out of him or her on and off the court. The most talented players will always rise to the top of the depth chart, but somewhere on your team may be a couple of players that could be just the x-factors you need to help take your team to the next level, if you can bring it out of them.


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jamie says:
12/20/2018 at 1:09:23 PM

it didn't help my students confidence is still, very low maybe even lower as she got bullied for leading sessions


Steven Ketcham says:
3/11/2015 at 5:50:09 PM

When a drill is very new there is always some correction needed and after a short time the players start getting into a groove but it is still not quite perfect yet.

Instead of stopping a player and making them redo a drill because they did it wrong I think that is a perfect time to showcase a player who is doing something right.

I will stop the drill, point out what I like and make the better player redo the skill. I find the more specific the feedback is the better.

"...look how Sally steps one-two around the cones..."
is better then
"...look how smooth Sally goes around the cones..."


shoe says:
3/10/2015 at 9:11:41 PM

thanks for the ideas presented here. my only coaching experience is with junior high girls and I see this as being the biggest challenge I have faced with my players. the last team I coached my most physically gifted player was also my most timid. I struggled to instill in her the confidence to let herself go and really give her all. its not that she didn't want to (I could see in her that she did) but she was so afraid to fail she would hold back. but I think to some degree every player was affected. trying to get into their heads that the only way they could really fail was if they failed to try 100 % is very hard.

i'd like to see more ideas / articles on ways to combat this issue. thanks


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