I’m a huge fan of TEDtalks. I watch them, I show them to my team. I think everyone should be watching them. Well, it turns out that TED has a website with written articles and it’s just as good! So when I saw 5 ways to build lasting self-esteem, I thought this would be great to talk about in relation to our teams.
Here are some ways we can help our athletes when their self-esteem needs a boost:
- Use affirmations correctly. “Grit” has been in the news lately as a way to help children succeed, but I think folks of all ages can use it. For a player who’s struggling with self-esteem, saying “I’m the fastest runner on the team!” won’t ring true and won’t actually motivate or encourage them. But saying, “Surely, I’ll succeed if I keep running these workouts as hard as I can!”
- Identify competencies and develop them. This one is about digging in to a skill they’re good at and keep working at it. Not that we don’t want to create well-rounded athletes, but we’ve got to give them enough reps (and compliments) at their particular skill that they feel confident…even when the occasional mistake happens.
- Learn to accept compliments. People with low self-esteem aren’t receptive to compliments will have a million reasons why the compliment isn’t true. Learning to simply say, “Thank you”, will take our athletes down the road to higher self-esteem.
- Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion. If you’re not helping your athletes with their self-talk, that’s a great area of growth. The best way to start is just to ask them what they’re thinking when they’re having a bad spell. Odds are, they’re saying negative things (“Don’t miss this free throw again” or “Please don’t pass me the ball”) instead of gritty things like, “Even Michael Jordan missed some free throws!”
- Affirm your real worth. When this player who needs the self-esteem boost is feeling particularly low, maybe they could even write a list of why they’re good at their sport. As cheesy as it sounds, it forces them to articulate why they do what they do. An effective spinoff of this strategy is to have their teammates write the list for them.
According to the article, “when our self-esteem is higher, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are more resilient as well, we are also less vulnerable to anxiety, and we release less cortisol into our bloodstream when under stress.” And those things will help them perform better…and increase their esteem!