The Scottish Football Association

Coach Tools to Build Confidence

Fill the emotional tank

 Fill the Emotional Tank

Build a young player’s confidence, motivation and resilience.

• Encourage players to give praise and encouragement to their teammates

• Give positive encouragement of effort irrespective of outcome or result

• Encourage young players to be confident and don’t be scared to try things

• All players get nervous - praise, listen and support players to build confidence

• Model the good behaviour you want to see in your players through positive verbal and non-verbal  communication on the pitch


Coach Tools to Fill the Emotional Tank

Buddy system

A coach need not be the only person responsible for buildling confidence. Individuals can be paired for particular exercises or practices and asked to be positive and encouraging with their partner. Split your team into pairs and ask them to work on a skill together. Each of the players in the pair has a role in praising and encouraging their partner to fill their emotional tank. A player getting positive praise from a team-mate can be very powerful and also a fantastic way of getting your team to communicate positively.

Fun activities

When a session seems to be a bit flat, or players are losing concentration or motivation, a great way to fill their emotional tank is to include some fun activities. Fun activities can be non-football games such as tag games or relay races but equally football games such as small sided games or shooting drills have great impact. Having a bank of fun activities to use as a coach to raise confidence and re-engage your players if they drop confidence or attention. It is also good practice every now and again to mix up session routine by having game/fun activity at start then do some skill practice.

Magic ratio 5:1

There will be times when you have to give corrections/coaching points to a player as this is an integral part of the coaching process. It is recommended that when giving corrections you should give five positive comments to every negative comment. Research has shown that a magic ratio of 5:1 as a big impact on the confidence and motivation of a young person making them more optimistic and teachable.

Although five comments may sound a lot, they can take the form of positive body language such as smiling, clapping or giving thumbs up or hand shake.

Example 5:1 ratio

Teachable Moment- Player has dribbled the ball into an opposition player with their head down and lost the ball


Clapping – Good effort – Thumbs up – You’re doing well  keep your head up when dribbling  Keep on Trying


Giving constructive feedback

It is important to give coaching corrections in a manner which allows the individual to use the information and be empowered to improve. There are some methods which can be used, which will not drain their emotional tank in the process:

• Avoid non-teachable moments – find the right time to give feedback (after the match may not be the best moment)

• In private – people accept corrections better in private rather than in front of a crowd

• Ask permission – if it is something that does not require immediate comment, or that the player is not ready to hear or deal with, then seek their permission before giving feedback

• If/then statements – these can help put suggestions into context “If you show the players down the line then it will keep him further away from the goal”

Positive Charting

Coaches will often spot things which are being done incorrectly and then try to correct or improve them. However, it is equally important – and valuable – for coaches to spot things that are being done well and to reinforce these points with the individual as this will encourage them to continue. Positive charting is a technique used for recording positive effort. See Positive charting template in Coaches resources.

This chart is also something you can ask others to help you complete, for example players who are sitting out, parents and other coaches. Sharing these positive points with the wider group at the end of a session will encourage greater energy and commitment next time.


Winners’ circle

Once players have match kit on and are ready to warm up, organise them in a circle and one by one ask them to set an effort goal for today’s game. You as a coach can also set team goals such as communicating to team-mates or movement off the ball.

Straight after game and before players get changed and leave with their parents, organise them into a circle once again and ask each player to tell you:

• Did they achieve their individual effort goal or team goal??

• Did they do anything else that they were happy about?

• Did anyone else in the team do something that they were happy about?

This will help build confidence and focus the young players on working hard to achieve and develop


Ask rather than Tell

Get in the habit of asking questions of your players rather than telling your players what to do. Asking questions and listening to your players will help them think for themselves and you as a coach can monitor their learning and understanding. The player will become less reliant on your feedback and will be able to solve problems for themselves.

It is great to ask rather than tell after a mistake. “if you are in the same situation next time, what can you do differently” This again allows the player to think for themselves, analyse what went wrong and identify what they need to do to improve.

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