Female athletes and the

Confidence Crisis

One of the most astonishing outcomes of my work with female athletes is the low amount of raw courage and confidence they possess, especially when compared to male athletes.

I measure it using an online talent assessment called CliftonStrengths® which is more commonly known as the StrengthsFinder®. It measures five “pistons” that comprise an athlete’s internal motor. My data collected from over 500 female athletes established that less than 2% had self-confidence in their top five strengths. This data point was underscored by my observations of what female athletes required to perform well under pressure.

If the Win Like a Girl® project has taught me anything, it has taught me this: 

We must, must include building courage and self-confidence exercises into our development models for athletes, especially for female athletes.

I began to adapt my Destination Unstoppable® program with specific exercises to support female athletes and the Win Like a Girl® program was born. At a high level, it includes:

1) Measuring their strengths.
This step is particularly effective with young people because they are less self-aware. It also shifts coaching conversations from fixing what’s wrong with someone to harnessing what’s great about them.

2) Exploring what female athletes fear,
why they fear it, and what to do about it.

3) Defining what improves or undermines their confidence.
This is helpful to athletes and provides valuable insight to their coaches.

4) Exercises on how to intentionally leverage the talents they do have
(never quitting or working hard, for example) to overcome fear and obstacles to performance.

Combatting the confidence crisis

In my upcoming book, Win Like a Girl®, I share research indicating that many female corporate executives were athletes, and they in turn seek to hire athletes for traits like determination, teamwork, and work ethic. Rarely do we help young athletes connect the dots between success in sport and success in life.