The Confidence ChallengeOne afternoon during a practice session, the mother of a young girl on my team approached with a request. "Can we do something about my daughter? Her confidence is low. Her sister plays at home and her confidence is growing. This is causing some conflict at home and I want to see both daughters enjoying themselves." I love when parents approach me like this. I lifted my clipboard and pointed to an empty space. "See this space?" I asked. "I use it to remind me of things I need to keep an eye on. I'm going to write her name here and from now on, we're going to work deliberately on her confidence." For the next several weeks, I paid special attention to what this young lady was doing. I ignored her curves away from the ball. I ignored the arms that flew up in defense when she came within 10 feet of an opponent. I searched with intention to catch her doing something right. I went out of my way to repeatedly point out when she did something right. Slowly, her fear seemed to subside. Two games later, she was playing right midfield, got the ball and almost accidentally broke through the first line of our opponent's defense (their midfielders). She stopped in surprise and looked my way. Both thumbs went up and I yelled with a big smile "Your Doing Great! Keep Going!"A moment later, she broke through the second line of our opponent's defense (the defensive line). She was now between the defensive line and the goal. Only the goal keeper stood between her and a score. She lost her nerve and punted the ball away to a team mate who was attacking far post. The team mate controlled the ball, drew the goal keeper and returned the pass to this young lady. The ball hit her in the thigh and went in the goal. She scored her first goal ever!!My bench came aline. They all stood up and screamed like crazy people. This young lady forgot I was even there and looked in the direction of her parents who were also out of their chairs at this point on the opposite sideline. Her face exploded in a smile and she jumped in the air from an uncontrolled enthusiasm. Her team mates - the rest of my team who was already on the field burst in a chorus of cheers and encouragement. This moment would likely be a moment when this young lady found confidence. It would be a moment she would remember for a long time to come. It was time to cross her name off my clipboard. I smiled and drew my line with a satisfied grin I could not myself control. "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.Dale Carnegie - WriterFinding ConfidenceConfidence can be a tricky thing. Too much breeds arrogance. Too little handicaps us. Ultimately, the finest form of confidence comes with humility wrapped in a comfort in our own self worth and abilities. It takes effort to achieve. It takes belief to inspire action that leads to effort that leads to achievement. Inspiring confidence is one of the things I love the most about coaching in youth sports. Learning to be confident is one of those things I believe serves us throughout life - well beyond the soccer pitch. Two ArchetypesKids, I have found, come in two varieties. There are probably more that have been classified by experts, but to my eye, there are two big ones that stand out. The first archetype is the one that believes that skill comes through effort. This type of player is easy to coach. They understand that wherever they are on the skill spectrum is a function of how much effort they have put in. To move further up the skill spectrum, they simply need to put in more effort. If they slack off, the know they will slide down the skill spectrum. The correlation between skill and work is clear in their minds. They respond to constructive feedback. They are more likely to say "I will..." or "I can..." and less likely to beat themselves up for not having a skill mastered yet.
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