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UK Coaching Participation Team
Developing Mindsets

How to Build Self-Confidence in Your Participants

Freely available until 30 June 2021 and then exclusive to UK Coaching Subscribers. Eight things you can do as a coach to help your participants improve their self worth and self efficacy

Confidence is having belief in yourself that you can do things.

  • Having belief in yourself is often called having self worth. 
  • Knowing and believing that you can do things is often called self efficacy. 

It is important for coaches to understand that people having the ability to take part and believing they can take part are not the same thing. People may take part but lack the self-efficacy to be fully confident in their abilities. 

How does confidence affect people taking part?

Low confidence can mean that people in your session are unwilling to try new things and engage in your session. The level of people’s confidence can affect how they join in, their ability to perform well, whether they gain maximum benefit from taking part and whether they opt out of some activities. 

Achieving success helps people build their confidence. This includes small steps of success and improvement, not just the achievement of big goals.

Being over confident can also affect how people take part. They believe too much in their own abilities and misjudge their ability to take part. They may overstretch themselves and risk injury to themselves or others. 

What can coaches do?

  1. Understand that confidence is not linear or constant and that it can increase or decrease between people attending your sessions due to things happening in their own lives. As a coach, you will need to help people achieve regular small successes to maintain confidence to help them to continue to enjoy the sessions and keep them coming back. 
  2. Have a system where people who already attend your session ‘buddy’ new people. This helps ease the anxieties of new starters and contributes to your existing group members feeling helpful, valued and part of something. 
  3. Recognise small steps in progress, especially those linked to people’s motivations and goals. Ensure that every participant has success every session.
  4. Use the STEP model to adjust part of your session so that everyone can achieve and feel a little bit challenged insert link.
  1. Praise your participants often and in a meaningful way. Everyone likes to be told they have done well or achieved a target or goal. Try praising an individual quietly as well as enthusiastically to a whole group. Remember to praise achievement of an individual’s personal goals as well as praising team or group achievements.
  2. A dip of confidence in the middle of a session is fine. People should leave your session feeling confident, so plan for success at the end of your session.
  3. Finish sessions when confidence is on the ‘up’. Avoid the temptation of introducing new and difficult skills at the end of a session that could negatively affect confidence.
  4. Support personal goal setting within your sessions – each person’s goals and success criteria are personal to them. These goals and success indicators may change over time or very quickly depending on the individual and their motivations. Spend time having conversations with people to understand what is important to them.

Have a go

In your next session try to show someone learning a skill rather than doing the skill competently. This helps people understand that not being perfect and learning is part of the process.



What do you notice about some people’s confidence?

What have you adjusted in your coaching to increase or decrease confidence?

How do you plan for people learning in your session and leaving your session confidently?


Related Resources

  • The ‘C’ System Explained

  • How to Create Little Moments of Success

  • The Ego has Landed: Three Coaches, Three Views on Handling Players with High Self-Esteem


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UK Coaching Participation Team