Building Team Confidence

Team Confidence
When a Team Has Confidence
The coaches interviewed gave several tips to look for when a team has confidence such as:
a) They are prepared for the game and they understand what needs to be done
b) The way they carry themselves, a little strut, but focused.
c) They have routines before a game that make them feel special.
d) They have a focused look in their eye.
e) They are not afraid to ask questions at practice.
f) They are likely doing well in school and in relationships.
g) At video sessions they ask questions and make notes.
h) They have success on the field and they know they have achieved success.
i) They sound like coaches at practices, games, and in the locker room when they talk to each other.
j) They reassure each other as to what they have to do in this game.

In addition the coach needs to learn to recognize the symptoms that suggest low team confidence. There are obvious symptoms which a coach can notice such as:
a) A decrease in game and practice team statistics
b) Losing streaks
c) Slumps-not performing up to their ability
d) General lethargy at practices
e) Shoulders slumped forward when they walk as a group
f) Looking at opponents and dreading the game against them
g) Talking about losing or failing before playing an opponents
h) Saying that our team is not very good
i) Lack of eye contact with others
j) Nodding their head “no” when speaking of reaching the team goal
k) Non-verbal signs that indicate a loss of confidence or faith in the team

Team Confidence Exercises
These exercises can be used at the start or finish of practices when a team is in a slump, lost a number of games in a row, are not performing as well as they have the ability to perform, or are showing symptoms of lacking confidence.

1. At the end of practice have the players on the team stand in a circle and tell the player on their left what that player did well today at practice. Make sure they look into the player’s eyes when they speak. Have the player receiving the compliment say “thank you”. Players will leave the practice felling good about themselves.

2. At the end of practice have each player tell the team what the team did well at practice today. This can be a technical or non-technical comment. For instance a player can say that the team communicated well today during the scrimmage or that they played tough defence.

3. At the end of practice have players identify one strength the team has from their perspective. The coach must make a note of some of the strengths that were pointed out and during future practices and games, reinforce these strengths. This will help the team to think more positively about their abilities because they identified those strengths. The coach must be sure to emphasize the fact that these are the strengths the team has identified. The coach needs to emphasize those strengths that they agree with so that they are sincere when they point out the team strengths.

4. In a setting away from the court have them participate as a group to create a list of strengths for each individual on the team. Give each player an index card and a sticker label for each player on the team. If there are 12 players on the team you will need 11 stickers per player. Each person writes one to three positives aspects that their teammate brings to the team, on the sticker label. The positive comments can describe the teammate’s attributes that help the team. After the team has completed this task, one teammate passes their index card around and each teammate verbally tells them the strengths they bring to the team and places the sticker label on the index card for the player. Every player does the same for this player. When each player has told the teammate their list of positive attributes the teammate has an index card filled with 11-33 positive statements about themselves. The player is told to keep the index card and refer to it whenever they doubt their contribution to the team or lose confidence.

5. If number 4 is too time consuming the coach can have the players do this at home and bring back their list of positive attributes for each teammate to the coach. The coach or manager can compile the list of attributes for each player and give it to them.

6. Have each player bring an inspirational quote, poem, or slogan for the day or week to practice and read the quote to the team. It is important that the quote has a special meaning to the player presenting it. The coach can then collect the quotes and distribute them to the players via email or paper. The coach may want to give the responsibility to each player to email the quote to each team member. If the coach puts the quotes on paper they should be placed in the players’ journals/self-esteem books for future reading.

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