Using sports for confidence development

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

The concept of self-efficacy, a term coined by Dr. Al Bandura of Stanford University, is defined as the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals.

More simply, self-efficacy has to do with personal confidence, meaning the more confident we are in our potential abilities, the more likely we are to perform.

Sports offers many great opportunities for kids to improve their levels of self-efficacy: by making great plays in the clutch, or working hard to come back in a game and earn a big victory. I'm sure you have seen your child glowing with pride after being a part of a big victory or personal accomplishment.

Self-efficacy has been strongly linked to performance success - not just in sports, but every aspect of life. For example, kids who feel confident in their abilities in school are likely to perform at a higher level, probably because of their increased motivation and greater resiliency when things don't go so well. High self-efficacy also can help in many other life experiences, including art, music, other sports and activities, and even in a future career.

Although sports can be a great starting place for kids to improve their self-confidence, it is important for parents to work with their kids to use this confidence in other ways. Strangely enough, most kids do not discover this transfer of sports-to-life on their own. Try these tips to help your child:

  • As you see your child's confidence grow through participation in sports, talk about it as a family.
  • Talk with your child about the importance of confidence and how it can help in every aspect of life.
  • If your child is struggling in school, remind him about the confidence he has in sports and help him learn how to transfer this confidence over to the classroom.
  • If your child still has trouble understanding how confidence can be applied to other areas in life, try talking about how he developed his confidence through sports, then discuss how the same strategies might be used again.
  • Try using very specific examples of confidence development. Help your daughter see that the same confidence she used to make the winning goal in a recent game can be used when she is asked to speak in front of her class next week. The more concrete examples you can give, the better.

More resources

Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360! The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development.

Dr. Chris Stankovich offers individual athletic counseling and team/league seminars. Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360. The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development. Visit for more details.