Q&A about confidence with Thierry Henry

Thanks to Sky Academy, Mumsnetters had a rare opportunity to get advice from Thierry Henry on helping kids succeed in the sporting world and how to deal with setbacks

Sky Academy is a set of initiatives that use the power of TV, creativity and sport to help young people unlock their potential. 

It recently launched Confidence Month, to highlight the importance of confidence in young people's development. As part of the campaign, Sky is showcasing its five Sky Academy initiatives, each of which help build practical skills, experience and confidence, with the aim of helping one million young people by 2020.

Davina McCall, Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE and Thierry Henry are supporting the initiative and to celebrate, Sky gave Mumsnetters the chance to ask them whatever they liked about confidence. 

Catch up on Davina McCall's top confidence tips and insight into what it's like in the media's eye - and read Jessica Ennis-Hill's advice on helping kids to become more confident in sport, and in life. Last but certainly not least, find out what Thierry Henry had to say below.

WIN! For the chance to win a £200 John Lewis voucher, read the Q&A and enter the competition below.

How can you boost a child's confidence in sport

What would you say to a child that thought they just weren't good enough and how can we boost their confidence so they'll try new things? (Theimpossiblegirl)

Thierry: Tell them to get out there again until they succeed and whatever level they reach is ultimately up to them and how hard they work. With the support of friends and family they need to make sure they can give it another go. The important thing is to keep trying - keep giving it a go and don't give up. You never know what's around the corner.

How would you advise instilling confidence in kids without installing arrogance? (DartmoorDoughnut)

Thierry: It depends. When you're confident people are always going to think that you have an element of arrogance about you. But I really believe people only see and view arrogance if they're not confident in themselves. If someone were to ask me to do something and I can do it, I'll say that I can - not because I'm arrogant, but because I will just get on and do it. But if you asked me to do something that I couldn't do (or didn't want to) and I said I can't, then people will look at me and say, "ah he's so humble" - but that's not me being humble, it's me being honest. You need to make your kids understand that being confident is not being arrogant, you just need to go about it the right way. 

Are there any differences we can learn from in the French approach to building confidence in children (or adults)? (EasterRobin)

Thierry: There is one thing that comes to mind. You guys at school in the UK mostly have to wear uniforms, but in France we go to school with our own clothes and therefore you can already see who doesn't have it very well. In English schools everyone looks the same in terms of uniform, so there is less targeting for the way you look. Other than that it's difficult to say, as ultimately all over Europe kids have to deal with the same problems. Kids can be cruel at times. 


Football clubs and improving skills

My sons play for local teams and the managers shout and yell, call them lazy etc. I often think: is this really the way to get the best out of children? I mean, if you tell them they're rubbish enough times they'll believe they're rubbish, won't they? Don't you think buckets of confidence-boosting praise would get better results? (popperdoodles)

Thierry: It's a fine line because you need results and you need be honest with someone when they're not doing well. It's about finding the right voice. You have words you can use that will have the same message - and same impact - without being overly critical. However, sometimes you have to shout - especially when you're standing on the sideline. As a coach, you need to be honest with the kids but you also need to use the right words in order for them to understand what you want. If you're congratulating young players when they're really not performing at their best, it could be counter productive. This is where finding the right balance is crucial.

How can British school children improve their football skills? (derxa)

Thierry: I guess the most important thing is repetition - it's the best tactic for improving skills. The best pianist in the world wakes up and practices the basics, it's the same in any sport and throughout life. It can be hard to squeeze skills into your day - whether it's sport or something else - but I always tried to play football. I always worked on the basics, always practised and always played.


How can kids find the time for sport

How can children manage the commitment of a competitive sport when they're young, when their friends will be out socialising or relaxing while they're having to do long hours of training and competitions? (CopperPan)

Thierry: I had to deal with that when I was young. It's part of the process of developing and bettering yourself. There will always be sacrifices along the way but it comes down to how much you want it - how much you want to be the best you can be. If you're passionate about something then you have to make sacrifices. My friends used to call me at Christmas and I'd be busy at a training camp or playing away from home - but for me I didn't see it as a sacrifice because that's what I wanted to do. You need to be focused. Yes, you have to make sacrifices, but you need to have that drive and belief that this is what you want to do.


How to deal with losing

I believe that the way to excel in sport is to experience losing and not be afraid of it. But losing is hard. What tips or experience can you give about dealing with losing? (VaseandCandle)

Thierry: You're spot on. Don't be scared of failure! Don't be scared to take risks. That's how you're going to be successful. You can actually learn more about yourself and your team when you lose, trust me. It's not about how you fail - it's about how you bounce back. Don't be scared of losing games and failing; embrace it. When you lose it hurts, so you want to make sure you don't go through that again.

How early do you need to start

Is there a defining moment in your childhood that gave you the drive to succeed? (ItStillLooksLikeRainDear)

Thierry: At the very beginning of my childhood success was about pleasing my dad - the drive that I had was to please him. As I got older there were other things that began to drive me. Winning championships - not just professionally, but along the way - the thirst for winning drove me.

What do you think about 'late starters' initiatives? It seems to me that unless you start very young (and shine) there's no way to succeed at a sport later on. (choccyp1g)

Thierry: I wouldn't say that this is true. You have guys who are at their best at the moment who didn't start their career that way. Jamie Vardy, for example, was playing non-league football and is now scoring goals every weekend for Leicester and playing for England. He's beating the odds, so he's a great example to show your kids how you can rise up later in your career.

For more information about Sky Academy, visit the website or follow @SkyAcademy on Twitter.


WIN! One lucky Mumsnetter will win a £200 John Lewis voucher - courtesy of Sky Academy.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the question below. 


Competition closing date: 19 November 2015



Last updated: almost 3 years ago