Sport can be a fantastic vehicle for young people to gain important life skills that will help them to prosper. Participation in sport can allow young people to experience ‘competition’, develop social skills, contribute to teamwork, explore their responses to mistakes, and manage success, failure, and feedback from others. Youth sport coaches, parents, and practitioners play an important role in creating a supportive environment to allow an athlete to develop these important psychological and social skills.

The 5Cs is an evidence based framework that was developed to help athletes, coaches, parents, and practitioners to thrive in sport and through the challenges that sport offers. Sport imposes not only physical and technical, but also mental, emotional and social demands on young athletes. When they understand and embrace such demands, young athletes begin to develop coping skills that enable them not only to thrive in sport but also to transfer such learning to other life domains, for example, school, family, and work settings.

The 5Cs framework is represented by the skills and qualities of: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence. Take a look at the sections below to find out more about each ‘C’.


Commitment represents the motivation that drives a young athlete to play sport. Effort, engagement, self-challenge and persistence are the core attributes of a committed athlete. To influence an athlete’s intrinsic motivation, they require a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness throughout their sporting participation.


Communication represents the verbal and non-verbal interactions between athletes and others, for example, a coach, parent, or teammate. Verbal responses include giving specific information, feedback, praise and encouragement. Non-verbal responses include hand signals, reactions to mistakes and positive/negative gestures.

The 5Cs aims to created strong HELPAs: those who Help, Encourage, Listen, Praise and Acknowledge others.


Concentration plays a key role in regulating the quality of an athlete’s performance. Concentration is an athlete’s ability to sustain attention on an object, person, thought, feeling or action for a defined period of time. The quality of an athlete’s concentration is determined by:

Attentional Focus: where their focus of attention is placed.

Attention Span: the ability to remain focused and/or hold attention for a required length of time without being distracted.

There are many different things to focus on at different times when playing sport. An athlete’s ability to focus on and regulate all of these different things is evidenced by the decisions they make and this reflects their ability to ‘concentrate’.


Control is closely linked to concentration as they both regulate an athlete’s focus of attention, thoughts and emotions. Athletes can experience positive emotions (joy, happiness and excitement) in situations, such as scoring a goal. In contrast, if a goal is conceded, for example, athletes can experience a range of negative emotions. Control is as much about helping athletes learn not to get ahead of themselves, as it is about understanding, accepting and managing negative emotions.

This self-control can include body language, self-talk and breathing.

How an athlete perceives a scenario is important to their resultant self-talk and body language. If an athlete perceives a scenario to be good, their self-talk is likely to be positive. If they perceive the scenario to be bad, their self-talk is likely to be negative. An athlete’s interpretation of scenarios is therefore key, and it is important for them to understand that ‘negative’ scenarios could lead to positive behaviour… it’s our choice.


Confidence comes as the last ‘C’ because it is influenced and developed by the other four ‘C’s. Confidence is a state of mind empowered by an athlete’s belief about executing skills to a desired level or achieving specific outcomes.

Confidence is a skill that athletes can develop, built on effort, skills, accomplishments and support. This skill allows athletes to approach challenges, take opportunities and make decisions that less confident athletes would see as threats. For young athletes, there are four main sources of confidence: recent past accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and emotional control.