6 ways to make shy players more confident

Rugby is a rough-and-tumble game so you wouldn’t think it attracts shy players but it does. They don’t engage with the others and never put their hand up to answer a question. Develop this player by following our six guidelines.

01 Do they really want help?

What we regard as shy might be just the way they feel comfortable. Not every player needs to be the life and soul of the party. In a sport where there is a lot of bonhomie, there are also players who like to shun the limelight and be in the background.

Accept they are perfectly happy to be less forthcoming than the others. It doesn’t have to be a major concern. However, if they become quieter and more reserved then these are signs that you may need to intervene.

02 Don’t label the player

A shy person does not want to be labelled as such. Everything you do to help the player must be done without reference to a perceived problem. “Why don’t you want to make friends?” is the sort of question that makes the player less likely to do so.

Remember, the player has come to rugby to be a rugby player, not get involved in a “shy person to confident person” project.

03 Easy does it

Everything needs to be gradual with a shy player. It is rare that one major event will make them more confident and socially interactive. In training, try mixing them into different groups. Give them minor roles within the group, like asking them to be the one who collects the ball or has to feedback at the end of an exercise on behalf of the group.

04 Stick with it

Since you are not going to see instant results, keep up the hard work throughout the season and into the next and so on. They may take very small steps forward. For younger players, they may even go backwards because of things happening in school or at home. You can provide a great environment for them to express themselves – but at the right pace.

05 Make it the right encouragement

All players love encouragement. Shy players seek encouragement just as much as any player. However, you might want to look to encourage some of the social aspects of their participation. For instance, “good support Joe, how could you have helped the others though?”, where you are looking for them to call for support. Or, “I liked the way you three worked together in that exercise, good teamwork, give yourselves a pat on the back”, which includes the player who is normally shy.

06 Be a role model

You are the centre of attention for training. Players respond to you, repeat your actions and mirror your attitude. Not entirely of course, but enough for you to make an impact on behaviour. You might be a normally loud and sociable person, or you might be quite shy.

Whatever your natural demeanour, it is important you are reassuring and socially inclusive. That means talking to all the players and at some stage making small talk with them. This helps the shy player understand how they might be able to interact in the same way.

What a now confident person will tell you

Ask someone who admits to being shy once upon a time what helped them the most. They will often say: Success.

This is measured more by being selected to play, being valued as a member of the team, doing well and receiving praise. It does not always mean winning games.

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