Confession of a Parent Coach
Sports Anxiety is Real!!
The first step in conquering sports performance anxiety is to recognize and understand that it’s real. Anxiety is a normal human response to stress, and it affects athletes at all levels. By accepting that anxiety is a natural part of the sporting experience a player, coach and parent can alleviate the pressure associated with it. It’s important to remember that anxiety doesn’t define the athletes’ abilities. Sports performance anxiety is real for amateurs and pros alike. In recent years, stars Michael Phelps and Simone Biles and others have shared their experiences with anxiety. The pressure to perform, fear of failure, and the anxiety of letting our coach or parents down in competition can paralyze even the most talented individuals.
Develop Healthy Mental Routines
Practicing and implementing consistent routines such as designated homework time, regular mealtimes, and making sure equipment and uniforms are ready before each practice or game. Getting to practice or games early, never rushing to stuff food in our mouths in the car, and showing up late is huge! Getting proper rest. These routines and others will help to manage and reduce pre-game anxiety and maintain focus. Healthy Mental Routines involve paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can be as simple as deep breathing exercises or an outstanding stretching routine!!
Setting realistic goals is crucial for athletes.
Build a Great Team Environment:
Creating a supportive team environment can significantly alleviate sports performance anxiety. Coaches, teammates, and parents play a vital role in nurturing a positive atmosphere that encourages athletes to thrive and have fun. Open communication and constructive feedback are essential elements in reducing anxiety levels.
Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity:
Perfectionism and fear of failure often fuel sports performance anxiety. Athletes should embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and development. Learning from setbacks and adopting a growth mindset can transform anxiety into motivation and resilience.
“ I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times, I’ve been trusted
to take the game winning shot—and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”
Sports performance anxiety is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier to success. By acknowledging anxiety, practicing positive mind input, setting realistic goals, seeking professional support, fostering a supportive team environment from team, coaches, and parents, emphasizing self-care, and embracing failure as a learning opportunity—athletes can help manage their emotions and achieve peak performance on and off the court.
Build a Mental Blueprint for Joyful Success!!
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint – and in the same manner, an athlete shouldn’t work on their mental game without first knowing what to work on. Here are some positive ways to build a successful Blueprint toward competition that will enable all participants, coaches, parents, and most importantly players to enjoy and experience all the positive benefits and memories that sports have to offer!!
Ask the right question after practices or games. How did practice go? How did you feel about your game tonight? One or two questions show your interest, while too many can feel like you are pressuring your athlete.
Offer opportunities for your young athlete to work outside of practice. If your young athlete says no, drop it and bring it up at another time when he or she is ready to work on improving.
Be at as many games as you can. It communicates your support and may encourage young athletes to push themselves.
Offer praise for hard work. It communicates support without attaching your love to his or her performance.
As a Parent or Coach don’t let anxiety push your athlete. That will motivate him or her to perform just to make you happy. It only teaches them how to appease you. Also, it distracts your athlete from finding internal motivation.
Value the Tangible Benefits of Sports:
Build a Positive Memory
If we look at Mental Preparation and Mental Performance in the heat of the competition as something that is supposed to be fun for all, then everyone will win regardless of the score. Winning is important and should be a reasonable goal. That said personal grown, forever friends and memories are what we are all left with when the dust settles down and they turn the scoreboard off.
In Closing, I want to say as a player and as a Coach I have been blessed by many wins and some very difficult losses, but I know I have benefited from both because either way I have been completely immersed in my passion for something I love so much.
My passion became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her, and got knocked on my bum by her and that is what I’m thankful for when comes to sports in my life. We must all work hard to build a positive environment that allows all athletes to enjoy their friend call competition, to thrive in the pursuit of excellence, to seek opportunities to be tested, and to have a mission that feels irreplaceable. I am so thankful. I’ve learned so many invaluable lessons about myself and about life through sports. And of course, I still have so much to learn. So, to the youth, coaches, parents everywhere, and to myself, we must realize that we have the ability to impact the future, to take charge of the mission in hand called sports, let us not squander the opportunity, let’s face it and work with a passion that will make the field of competition a joyful journey for all to experience.