Building Confidence, Competence, and Connectedness Through Sports

Building Confidence, Competence, and Connectedness Through Sports

October 24, 2016
By Tricia Cohee, Program Coordinator, Athletics, Junior School

For decades now it has been identified that girls drop out of sports at alarmingly higher rates than boys during their adolescent years. 
Through the development of competence, confidence, and connectedness, we can keep more girls in sports for longer periods of time.
In her article focusing on the extreme variance of drop-out rates between boys and girls, Brooke DeLench identifies a ‘crisis of confidence’ as a significant factor of this unfortunate statistic.
Rebecca Radcliffe identifies through her work that girls begin to doubt their personal sporting ability as early as age 7 or 8. In her role as UK Minister for Women and Equalities, Jo Swinson, says, “We know that after this age, low confidence and body consciousness can combine to reduce their eagerness to take part, which is a real shame and can have lasting effects on health right into adulthood.”
Girls opt out of sports for many reasons, including:

  • Negative body image
  • Crisis of confidence
  • Fear of failure
  • Complex social dynamics
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Confidence. Competence. Connectedness

Through athletic participation, girls should feel a sense of confidence in their performance, a competence in what they are doing, and of course a connectedness to their team and to their school. 
Girls can gain confidence by taking on leadership roles on a team, they have an increased feeling of competence when they learn new skills and can help a teammate, and girls will feel a great sense of connectedness when they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Educational athletics has proven to be an effective method in combating the decline of girls’ participation in sports. By increasing a girl’s confidence, growing her skill and leadership competency, and fulfilling her need for meaningful connectedness to her peers and community, she is more likely to remain in sports. 
Educational athletics is really quite simple. It is a values-based, student-centered approach that teaches character and life skills. Girls involved with school sports, grounded in an educational athletic pedagogy, are more likely to develop higher self-esteem, confidence, and leadership abilities.
Research has shown that student-athletes;

  • perform better academically
  • have better attendance and fewer discipline issues
  • stronger fitness and health benefits
  • show positive character development in areas such as leadership, teamwork, collaboration, and work ethic
  • are ambitious and more likely to take on leadership roles
  • healthy approach to winning and losing
  • strong decision-makers
  • display good self-control
  • respectful of others efforts/discipline

Involvement in sports at a young age, that continues on through adolescence, translates into extraordinary lifelong benefits. All girls deserve the gift of sports.