Athletic performance isn’t always black and white.  The bigger, stronger, and faster athletes aren’t always the ones who are able to take their game to the next level and create longevity.  It’s actually a lot more nuanced.  There are many intangibles that can create or break opportunities for young student athletes.   Being an athletic performance coach I prefer to emphasize good coaching over everything else. For me this goes far beyond teaching kids how to squat and bench press, it’s helping to instill in them the importance of consistency, delayed gratification, perseverance, effort, and more importantly grit.  One quality I feel that every coach needs to make a priority with their athletes is instilling confidence.

To make sure we’re on the same page I’m not talking about athletes who have swag, or swagger.  I’m talking about the kind of confidence that helps athletes develop a deeper sense of self.  With that being said, swagger and confidence are not the same thing.  Simply put, the former is built from the outside in, while the latter is built from the inside out.  I work with youth athletes for a living and I can say without a doubt that confidence is built by putting kids in situations where there’s risk of a temporary setback.  Sounds counterintuitive right?  From my experience when youth athletes are made to do hard things; things they’re not sure if they can do, whether they accomplish them or not they are stretched in ways that they’ll never be the same. If they are able to overcome these obstacles then great, now they did something that they didn’t know they could do.  If they are unable to accomplish them, great now they can figure out exactly what they need to do to accomplish it next time.  Either way, the end result is a deeper sense of who they are as athletes, and young women and men, and that’s confidence.

When we talk about putting athletes in scenarios of temporary setbacks, it’s important to mention that it should be relatively low stakes.  We’re talking about young men and women here and my job as a coach is to present obstacles in which they will have to use their discernment in making the best decisions.  This alone can provide a sense of empowerment and provide a catalyst for building confidence for a young person.  As a coach, I can create these low stake situations easily.  It can be something as simple as pushing athletes in the weightroom, setting high athletic performance goals, or encouraging athletes to work on their weaknesses instead of working on their strengths which they tend to enjoy.  At my school, the Boost Alternative School for Student Athletes in Corona, CA, I develop a 10 month strength and conditioning program where student athletes will have to work harder than they ever have in their young lives.  Sounds a bit crazy I’m sure, but it’s amazing to witness the transformation of these young people.  The confidence they gain from a year of doing hard things is priceless.

This is why I coach.  Not to build the best strength and conditioning programs, but to help build the most confident and resilient athletes.  All the lean muscle, strength and speed gains they receive are just a byproduct of them being pushed out of their comfort zone.  And the inner confidence that is built from that will stay with them for life.  So if you want to build confidence with your athlete as a coach or parent, have them do hard things! -Boostman

Coach Bass

Owner, Boost Training Systems in Corona, CA
Level 1 & 2 Coach Bommarito Performance