How to Help Your Child Athlete Believe in Themselves 100%

Parents help their child succeed on and off the field by encouraging his/her dreams, having his/her take aim and set specific targets (goals), and training his/her to vividly and precisely imagine him/herself accomplishing his/her goals.

There is the fourth and final step in our success journey for young athletes.

To have a big dream, to aim and hit specific targets, and to imagine picture perfect results is all wasted if your child doesn’t truly believe it’s going to happen.

Believing in the inevitable outcome of your efforts creates the 100% commitment of body, mind, and spirit that is required. Yet many young athletes do not believe in their own success, and therefore fail to reach their dreams.

When your child is short on belief, his/her commitment is compromised. He/She protects his/herself by not giving 100% of his/her time, energy, or resources.  He/She has built in a backdoor for his/her fear of failure to enter.

And you as the parent have allow him/her to do it.

Total commitment, on the other hand, means all out war on the obstacles blocking your child’s way.  Failure (known as quitting) is not even an option. It may take longer than you or your child wants, but you know it will be done!

The reason for this lack of belief is found in the negative self-talk the sub-conscious mind hears all day long. Self-degrading comments like, “I’m so slow,” “I’m so uncoordinated,”  “I never get it right,” and “I’m failing again” are roadblock messages that make it nearly impossible to achieve great things!

The sub-conscious mind believes and moves us toward our most dominant and frequent thoughts. It does not differentiate between true and false self-talk.

Here’s how you can help your child overcome negative self-talk:

  • Share your personal struggle against negative self- talk. We all deal with this issue from time to time in some area of life.
  • Ask your child to identify the specific phrases he/she hears in his/her head.
  • Help him/her re-write the phrases into positive self-talk statements that are encouraging and stated in the present tense (I am; I can; I enjoy).
  • Encourage him/her to use these new statements often during his/her day.

Try This “Believe Passionately” Exercise

With your child’s dream, targets, and imagination of success clearly in mind, have him/her make a list of as many negative or self-limiting messages you’ve regularly heard him/her say that might apply.  These should be “I” statements that represent the roadblock messages of your self-talk.

While you’re at it, make your own list of negative or self-limiting messages you’ve said to your child.

For every roadblock messages, write a new and improved message.

Carry the list of positive statements with you for daily practice.

Review the following examples of reprogramming mental messages. Then take some time to turn some of your own old road block messages into new positive self-talk.


“I can never kick the ball well with my left foot.”


“I am improving my left-foot kicks with daily practice.”


“I’m so slow at running the bases.”


“I enjoy choosing the best angle on each base to cut down my time.”


“My free-throw shooting stinks.”


“I am a hard worker and I’m making progress on my aim and my free-throw percentage.”

These statements must be said out loud in the beginning, at least three times per day. Eventually they will become part of conscious thought, but only if intentionally practiced at first.

Think of how long some of your negative thoughts have been rattling around on your mental hard drive.  To accomplish a successful overwrite, repetition will be required. Hear yourself and your child say the phrase, let it sink in, internalize its meaning, and then move on to the next phrase.

Say each one with confidence, energy, and a strong sense of belief.

Everything Growing Champions For Life does is to help sport organizations create the most positive learning environment for athletes, parents, and coaches. I have shared our strategies with stakeholders in many sports. If you are interested in learning more about our in-person seminars and workshops, webinar series or online learning program, I would love to hear from you.

Now it is time for you to teach your children to believe passionately and continue Growing Champions For Life.

About the author

David Benzel
Sport Family Coach at

Founder of Growing Champions for Life, David helps sports parents and coaches incorporate positivity and persistence into their communication with the young athletes who count on their encouragement and guidance. An eight-time national water skiing champion, five-time national record holder in water ski jumping, former World Championship U.S. Water Ski Team coach, and proud professional sports parent, he understands first-hand the challenges and rewards of competition. His extensive experience as a corporate leadership coach for Nextel, Sprint, Allstate, Balfour Beatty, The Villages and other companies provides David with unique insight into the skills needed to excel in sports, business and life. He brings an athlete's discipline, a coach's inspiration, and a parent's practical experience to his mission to grow not just champion young athletes, but holistically well-rounded individuals equipped for lifelong excellence.

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