We all have bad days on the pitch, but a child’s confidence can take a big knock if it happens to them. Kids Coach Naomi Richards looks at ways we can help out.

When a child walks off the football pitch after a game that they thought didn’t go well for them, they can come away doubting their abilities and what they are capable of. It can make them feel insecure of their standing within their team and wonder if they really are as good a footballer as their coach, parents and peers say they are.

It is not always easy trying to get a child back on their feet after they missed a great chance, had a penalty saved, kept getting tackled or did not get much of a touch during the game.

If they have high self-belief, they can say to themselves “Okay, I did not well today but I have played well in other games” and analyse what did not go so well in a rational way.

But what if they can’t? What if they start to think that they are just not good enough and perhaps stop wanting to play the game?


As parents we can help them by boosting their self-belief and challenging their thoughts so they see the game as a one off ‘not great’ game. We need to help them believe in themselves.

You can do this by talking about the game they have just played. Get them to make a list of the things that they did well and then a list of where they felt they did not do so well. Let them see the game was not all bad and think together about strategies they could use next time out to improve their game. This activity should help dispel the belief they have about themselves such as, “I am a rubbish footballer” or “I never score a goal”. Alternatively you could talk about games they have played over the past few weeks or months. Can they remember the games where they played extraordinarily well? Get them to write them down – what happened and what was the outcome? Now talk about the days they felt they did not play well. Can they remember them? Get them to keep a journal or written note from now on of when they play well so that they remember they have great playing ability. We want them to remember!

We can also get them to think about why they were picked for the team in the first place. What attributes do they have to be a great footballer? Are they fast, a quick-thinker, a good tackler, patient, a team player? If they weren’t would they have been picked?

Finally ask them how they would feel if they were not playing football? Might they have any regrets further down the line?

Share your experiences of when you wanted to give up or not felt great about a performance and how you endured and went forward to succeed.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, ‘The Parents Toolkit’, was published this year. To find out more or follow @thekidscoach.


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