Many young athletes thrive within the culture of team sports, and in turn, their performance improves. They love every part of it — from the pre-game anticipation and rituals to the post-game celebrations.

But, what about the kids who don’t thrive right away? What if they love the game, but worry about skill level or injuries? What if your daughter loves practice, but struggles with game night anxiety? What if your son worries about letting his coach or parents down?

Sports come with stress, both on and off the court. Sometimes, that stress can grow into anxiety and fear, keeping kids from enjoying activities to the fullest. It might even hold your child back from trying something new or sticking with a sport through the season. Here are some tips for helping young players overcome common sports fears.

  1. What if I make a mistake? That’s almost every kid’s fear. It’s our job as parents and coaches to make sure they know that EVERYONE makes mistakes — we just need to learn and move on. Share some of your mistakes with your child. This teaches them it’s okay, just part of the game, and there’s life after the mistake!
  2. I don’t want to disappoint anyone! First of all, make sure you aren’t adding to this stress by reliving your own sports dreams through your child. You need to reassure them you love and support them, no matter how the game turns out!
  3. I’m scared I’ll get hurt! Fear of getting hurt can make your child tentative on the court. Practice safe methods of training and remind them of the correct way they’ve been taught.

Your words and actions can make all the difference for your child!