The Kids Coach: Keeping the belief going

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 Parent’s Toolkit, shares key life tools for you to help your children successfully navigate their own childhood problems and grow up into happy, confident and resilient young adults.

The Parent’s Toolkit was described by The Sun as “clear and to the point… a must-read for parents”. It is published by Vermillion and is available to buy on

Put your questions to The Kids Coach

If you would like to get Naomi’s advice on any topic relating to young footballers – from working well with others to dealing with a lack of confidence on the pitch – please leave a comment below and it could well be addressed in next month’s column.

Alternatively email [email protected] or tweet Naomi at @thekidscoach.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Dan Pope on LinkedinDan Pope on Twitter
Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

Take the hassle out of organising your sports team with Teamer. Organise, communicate and take payments.


  1. Jane Monejen on October 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    As a parent of a football mad son who has played football in clubs since the age of 6, this article has really struck home.

    He took a particularly hard knock when he was put on the sidelines for another player to take his place.

    This affected his confidence on the pitch to such an extent that his playing style totally changed, he gave up and felt never good enough.

    He left the club and joined a team with supportive coaches, kids and parents who respect the players no matter how they play. His coach understands the difference confidence has to his playing and hopefully with his help, he has turned the corner and is the confident little player he was. It has been a long road and it is still a work in progress.

    To see confidence in any child is the best feeling in the world.

  2. Stuart Martin on October 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

    My goalie let in 11 goals at the weekend, he had one of those nightmare games and left the pitch absolutelty shattered, his confidence must have taken a right battering. I’ll be telling him to learn from that game, and that he’s a brave young lad playing in a brave position.

  3. robby mcgreevy on October 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    hi there was wondering how do we go about finding someone to help us with one on one coaching to help improve my son who is 10 years old kind regards

  4. jackie smith on October 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    my son plays football but a realative is his coach for his team. The problem i have this relative is always underminding my son and his confidance has now gone how can i takle this situation.

  5. AngryFotballer on November 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    its sad that confidence can be lost easily. But its not always the ”bad game” or negative thoughts.
    There are some bad coaches. My coach took 1yr of my football career by keeping me reserv. Can you believe the guy? i scored 45 goals with my old coach playing me games. Advice to all parents. Always check the coach and the staff Morals.

Join the discussion