Every coach and parent knows that youth baseball players perform better when they are confident. It’s no mystery, even to the kid. Truthfully, it’s really quite simple and most parents already know how to do it, but they just don’t do it.

It all comes down to these 2 THINGS adults can do to build their child’s confidence in sports or anywhere:

1. Positive encouragement

2. Unconditional approval

See, I told you that you knew the answer. So, this article will help you correct the reasons why adults are so terrible in the execution of those principles and how to do it right!



Let’s start with positive encouragement. There’s nothing complicated about it. You just need to CONSISTENTLY deliver communication to your child/player that they can succeed and have all the skills and abilities they need to do well. The essence of confidence for anyone is in believing these 2 words: I CAN!

What’s the problem?
Adults need to understand that kids have this round-the-clock tape or voice in their head playing messages that they:

“Can’t do it”


“Doubt about their abilities.”


Adults don’t hear this out loud (because it’s inside their head) and so we think everything is fine and the kid is processing the world like we do. Not true.

In other words, we forget what it was like to be a kid! If I didn’t work inside the minds of so many kids over the years, I would have forgotten too. Therefore, you as a parent need to help your child balance out that automatic negativity with just as much “CAN DO” messages, and that takes lots of them! Just use simple labels and sentences and give believable specifics like this:

“You have a really good eye for pitches!”

“You are such a hard worker… that will get you through anything in baseball!”

“Your fielding just keeps getting better and better every season Your speed and quickness will always give you an advantage!”

Say these things in passing around the home, in the car, anywhere. Not just at the baseball field. Use labels like: “Speedy” or “Mr. Power” or “Lightning” to help your child really own their strengths to use them as a foundation to build confidence on.


This is actually more important than positive encouragement. A simple statement like this sums it up:

“I believe in you no matter what happens here.”

The reason parents and coaches fail in this area is often because of unspoken messages. Here’s what I mean: When a kid strikes out and walks back to the dugout and glances at the parent/coach and sees the disappointment in body language or facial expression, the kid gets the message of “disapproval” from the adult.

This is a kids’ worst nightmare – disapproval – especially from a parent.

In other words, whenever any subtle or direct communication (some studies say verbal is only 10% of communication) to the child is received that approval is conditional upon performance, then the child is going to be afraid to fail. That fear destroys confidence.

Confidence cannot occur in the presence of fear. That’s the bottom line.

Here’s some examples of what you want to do and the most important time to do it is when your kid is not doing well.


1. When your kid strikes out, make it a point to go over there and tell him/her,

“You rock taking your cuts up there!”

2. When your kid makes an error, don’t just go over to “cheer him up” tell him he’s still got it and he is an awesome fielder and you are proud of how he went for it. Look for the positive in the event and never show your disappointment, even if you are just being empathetically disappointed for him. That’s the key.

Are you getting the picture here? Use your encouraging voice tones. Be more than positive, be passionate! Hug or high five him or touch him somehow to reassure him that he has your full approval no matter what just happened.

Use your encouraging voice tones. Be more than positive, be passionate!

Confidence gets built by successes in the absence of fear. Your job is to eliminate his fears and highlight his successes.

Craig Sigl,
Your mental toughness trainer