5 Extracurriculars to Build Confidence

Extracurricular activities can range from playing basketball to playing the piano, gardening, or doing pottery. Not only are these activities fun, they’re also associated with lower depression and anxiety, improved academic performance, and increased self-confidence. This blog post will focus on the last point: how to increase your confidence through extracurriculars.

According to psychologists Albert Bandura and Carol Dweck, confidence is linked to how an individual perceives their skills and abilities. Do they believe they can complete tasks and achieve their goals or do they doubt themselves? A boost in confidence often comes with experience, and it allows you to make decisions effectively, delegate responsibility appropriately, and advocate for yourself.

Seeking ways of building confidence is crucial to your success in any arena, whether you’re still a student or you’ve entered the workforce. It can also add value to your personal life, including your relationships and how you make educational, financial, and social decisions. 

Participating in extracurricular activities is a great place to start. But in order to really increase your confidence, you have to pick the activities that are right for you. Start by assessing your interests, strengths, and areas of improvement, and then determine which opportunities will help you enhance your skills and work towards your broader life goals. 

Here are our top 5 suggestions to get you started on your extracurricular search. 

#1: Public Speaking 

Public speaking is a useful skill for so many areas of your day-to-day activities, such as delivering presentations at work and school, making phone calls, or even having water cooler chats. You even occasionally need to rely on it when hanging out with friends! So why not work on your public speaking in an enjoyable and non-judgemental space?

Extracurriculars are a great way to improve your public speaking because, whichever activity you choose to pursue, everyone is likely there in the spirit of growth. Whether they’re there to learn something new, to meet new people, or even just to add an experience to their resume, they’re there to expand their horizons. 

A great first step is to check out the clubs that exist at your school and in your city. Joining a debate team, participating in Model UN, joining a drama club, or participating in an open mic night are all great ways to practice and enhance your public speaking. You can even start by joining conversation circles or book clubs where you get ample opportunity to form opinions and share your thoughts with a small group. 

Another great way to practice and improve your public speaking is by signing up for a program like Toastmasters or their Youth Leadership Program designed for teenagers! A major component of these programs involves learning how to provide constructive feedback in a way that acknowledges the speaker’s strengths alongside their areas for improvement, which can be especially helpful for the 15-30% of the general population who have public speaking anxiety. Presenting in this space means that yes, you’ll still be judged for the way you speak, but you’ll also have the reassurance of hearing what you’re already doing well.

All of these extracurriculars will allow you to speak without being self-conscious! They give you the chance to practice forming and stating your own opinions on a variety of topics, which will allow you to speak up more confidently during class discussions, when you’re hanging out with your friends, or when you’re answering interview questions. 

#2: Academic Competitions

Nearly every school has academic competitions that you can join, such as math contests, science fairs, and even bridge building or Rube Goldberg machine competitions. These groups will supplement your in-class learning while challenging you to think deeply and creatively. You can use this as an opportunity to enhance your understanding of course content or to delve into an entirely new topic. Competitions are also great motivators as they can encourage you to proactively improve your performance

As you develop specialized skills and knowledge and put them to the test, you’ll learn to trust that you do know this stuff! This newfound trust in your abilities will allow you to tackle your coursework more confidently, help your friends and classmates who need support, and keep pushing yourself with advanced courses and contests. 

These competitions are great, low-stakes environments to practice your networking skills since many of your peers with similar interests will be in attendance. Take the opportunity to socialize! A variety of professors, researchers, and field experts are also usually at these competitions as judges, facilitators, or attendees. Why not introduce yourself? By building relationships with these people, you can potentially receive mentorship that will enrich your personal growth and professional network. 

Using these opportunities to practice your networking will allow you to improve on your “sales pitch” so to speak. Over time, you’ll get better at introducing yourself and sharing things — such as what you’re studying, your interests, and your skill set —in a confident manner. 

#3: The Arts

Whether you’re singing, acting, painting, or writing, you need commitment, discipline, and a deep passion in order to grow as an artist. Research has shown that extracurriculars based on creativity can also positively impact your behaviour, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Art can feel especially vulnerable. Where other extracurriculars are a space where you use pre-existing tactics, formulae, or tools that others have created, art is entirely about what you create. So when people judge your art or assign it value — monetary or otherwise — it feels like that value is being assigned directly to the choices you made throughout your creative process as you develop your own style. As a result, it feels incredibly risky to create something totally unique and true to your vision.

But that’s precisely where the benefits of pursuing art are realized. According to a Dartmouth study, creating art can actually rearrange the white matter in your prefrontal cortex. Artists are known for thinking outside the box, and this often manifests as creative problem solving, which is largely what your prefrontal cortex does. You think in ways other people don’t; you should be able to justify your creative decisions to your audience and critics, and you have to be open to the possibility that others won’t like what you create. That’s where the confidence building happens. 

#4: Physical Activity 

Through involvement in sports — whether individual or as part of a team— you’ll get better at making decisions under pressure. In the heat of the moment, athletes don’t have time to second-guess themselves. They need to accurately and efficiently assess their situation and select the right approach to it. It’s a highly transferable skill that you’ll need in every workplace and in many of your personal relationships as well. 

Team sports are especially beneficial! The social aspect of working with a team can teach you lots about how to manage relationships, how to work with others towards a common goal, and how to share the highs and lows with other people. You also develop a sense of identity as a team member, which reduces social isolation and has a positive effect on self-esteem.

Beyond sports, regular exercise is a great route for developing your confidence. Measuring progress in your speed, endurance, strength, and agility  gives you tangible evidence of your ability to grow over time. Exercise also provides a great outlet to relieve stress and can improve your mental health in the long-term.  

There are so many forms of exercise such as weight lifting, cycling, or calisthenics, each of which requires specific knowledge and skills. It can be incredibly daunting to pick up a new form of exercise! Especially if you’re only just starting to explore physical activity altogether. But, once you start training and look into the appropriate equipment or identifying proper form, you’ll develop trust in your ability to pick up new skills and step into unfamiliar spaces, just as you would with other content you study!

#5: Get Involved 

A great way of building confidence is to find a cause that matters to you and get involved! You could volunteer at a local shelter or food bank, assist the elderly in your community, or even organize a protest. However you choose to approach your community involvement, you’ll get to meet like-minded individuals, learn how to function as part of a team, develop new skills, and apply your pre-existing skills in an arena that matters to you. 

Community involvement is a great way of learning to appreciate your voice and your skills. You get tangible evidence of the impact of your work — such as how many people you service or how much money you fundraise — and you can assume leadership roles in areas such as organising events, mentoring new group members , or running social media pages. As you take on more responsibilities and witness the impact of your leadership on your own team, you’ll start to trust your voice and decision-making abilities more, speak up more, and take on more leadership roles!

Volunteering in your community also necessitates creative problem-solving. You’re often working with little funding and resources, and sometimes working with uncooperative individuals or organizations. Similar to creating art, it can feel like an immense risk to think outside the box, but you’ll learn to trust your instincts, demonstrate your skills and knowledge, and advocate for your community. 


And there you have it! 5 types of extracurriculars that can improve your confidence. 

In developing multi-year plans for clients, our experts conduct a thorough skills assessment which identifies your interests, strengths, and areas for improvement. We also identify relevant extracurriculars that provide the skills and experiences our clients need to reach their goals. 

Have any questions about our services?  Reach out to our experts. We’re always happy to provide you with more information. 

If you’re curious to learn more about our work or how we can help you meet your goals, check out our services or book a free consultation

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