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Monday, May 17, 2010

How to Build Self-Confidence in a Young Athlete

By Jay Granat

Every day, I get calls from athletes who feel that they are lacking in self-confidence. I am currently working with a skier, a swimmer, a bowler, a tennis player, a pitcher, a second baseman, a golf pro and two soccer players. All of these people are trying to believe in themselves a bit more and trying to elevate their self-confidence.

Yesterday,I got a call from a baseball player who is playing triple a ball for a major league team. He is worried because he has been in a hitting slump. In addition, he is fearful that his lack of confidence will prevent him from making it into the major leagues. Obviously, he is under some significant pressure and to make matters worse, he is doubting himself.

It is important to understand that players, parents, coaches and therapists spend a lot of time building youngsters' confidence. And there are many ways to help people to believe in themselves and in their physical abilities. I have dozens of them.

Bedtime is a great time of the day to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. When you get ready to go to sleep, you can use this quiet time to build yourself up instead of dwelling on all that went wrong earlier in the day or worrying about what could go wrong tomorrow.

Before you go to sleep tonight, make make a list of seven times in your life when you felt very comfortable and good about yourself. You can include a good grade, a great game, an award you won, succeeding at something that was difficult or working hard to master a task or to finish a difficult project. One of my patients loved to remind himself of how he felt when he learned to surf. Another, like to revisit his best basketball games.

A swimmer I worked with like to take herself back to her best times and to the meets where she touched the wall first at the end of the race.

As you get ready to go to sleep spend a minute revisiting each of these experiences and accomplishments. When you are done, just let yourself relax, have a good night of sleep and maybe dream about some of your goals your positive accomplishments.

Do this for three weeks. Stacking your positive memories like this on a daily basis can help you to build your confidence.

And, the next time you go out on the field or on the court, carry some of these thoughts with you and see if you start to feel more relaxed, confident and focused with this new frame of mind.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers. The method described in this article is included in Bedtime Stories For Young Athletes.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick