Confidence in Sports

By TeamSnap’s Guest Author Brad Jubin, founder of APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other).

This article was inspired by Emmitt Smith. 

I recently had a conversation with a friend about youth sports. We talked about the lifelong benefits of being involved in sports as a kid. At one point during the conversation, my friend became very serious and declared that “confidence” was the greatest life lesson he learned through his years of participating in sports. I was truly impressed with his confidence when he said “confidence” and I wanted to learn more about it.

Football PlayerOver the years I have used the word “confidence” countless times and in countless situations. But what is confidence? I know there’s a lot more to confidence than just having a feeling of assurance; especially self-assurance. How do we intentionally share the concept of confidence with our kids, so that they can grow up confidently?

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus once said, “Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.”

From the golf course to the gridiron to the executive board room, confidence is built through hard work and dedication to a specific goal. Confidence grows in us as we work toward that goal. A football player is confident because of the hours, weeks, months and years he has invested in his abilities. In the same way, a gymnast wouldn’t have the confidence to attempt a flip on a four inch piece of wood if she hadn’t worked her way up to it through practice and effort. Confidence is built in the same way any skill or talent is honed and perfected; with great effort.

Softball Team ChampionsEmmitt Smith is a confident man. He is also the reigning NFL All-Time leading rusher, a Dancing with the Stars Champion and responsible for a flood of tears during his Hall of Fame induction speech. Each of these accomplishments in and of itself confirm that Emmitt Smith is a confident man. But when you look at the effort behind the accomplishment, it’s easy to see that his confidence came from hard work. In his book “GAME ON”, Emmitt Smith said that his emotional speech at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony came after hundreds of hours of work, practice and effort. Confidence is the direct result of hard work. Confidence is the fruit of our labor.

So how do we bring up confident kids? The first step is to stop “telling” them to be confident; confidence is not a feeling that they can simply experience on demand. The second step is to help kids discover their talents and gifts. Then we must enable them to work at becoming better and stronger in those areas. Finally, we should help them find opportunities where they can share their gifts and talents to benefit and help others.

On a personal note: I write articles to share ideas that will help kids learn about leadership and character. This article took me at least 100 times longer to write than it took you to read. For that reason, I am confident in sharing it with you.

To find out what the single most important thing Brad has learned coaching youth sports, read another one of his stories about coaching with grace at

Brad Jubin is a volunteer youth coach in Peachtree City, GA. Together with his family, Brad founded APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other) is a free resource that leverages Brad’s personal experiences as a youth coach to help other coaches teach kids about leadership and character through a series of fun and engaging lessons. For more thoughts on youth sports from Brad Jubin, be sure to check out our podcast interview with him, “Developing Leaders in Youth Sports.” 

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