Dealing With Performance Anxiety in Sports

Soccer players during gameDealing with performance anxiety in sports is always tricky, because the “regular” methods of positive self talk or visualization don’t always work.

If it is problem that holds your athlete back or causes them to choke at critical moments, then it is very important they start using tools to overcome the anxiety so it does not grow or get worse as they get older.  They need to actively work on the mental side of their game, just like they do for their physical training.

The good news is that there are many techniques athletes can use to overcome their performance anxiety.  In this video, Dealing With Performance Anxiety, Craig discusses a few…

Click to Play Audio File:

Download the Audio File.(You may need to right-click the link and select "Save Target As.")

College basketball athletes playing without anxiety

Why is it do important to deal with performance anxiety for youth athletes?

The clock is ticking with only 5 seconds to go and your kid’s team is down by two points.

The coach puts your child in…you can see they feel the outcome of the game is all on their shoulders.  The team’s final winning season is coming down to this one basketball game, to this one final shot. If they win here, their team will finally win the state championship. Lose and their championship dreams are over.

The crowd is going crazy. Everyone is on their feet…

So what is going on in your kid’s head at a pressure-packed time like this?

Do they really want the ball with the game on the line or are they freaking out inside, worrying about blowing it and embarrassing themselves?

Can they step up to the free throw line calm, loose and focused, while blocking out the fans and opponents who are desperately trying to get into their head?

Your child’s skills and abilities on the court are only as good as their mental skills.  With practice, they CAN learn how to block out distractions and relax under pressure.  They can focus on what is important and let go of their mistakes.

Swimmer dealing with performance anxiety in sportsHow do they handle their mistakes? Do they quickly bounce back from missed shots?

The sign of a true champion is how they deal with their mistakes and are able to confidently put the mistakes behind them.

When their coach yells at them for blowing it, can they separate the coach’s rants from their feelings of self-worth?

Lot’s of talented players end up performing way below their potential, because they couldn’t tolerate making mistakes and never learn how to let them go. They beat themselves up, which kills their self-confidence.

How about a time when they played “out of their mind”? Effortlessly?

To play their best, they need to trust themselves and let the game come to them.  Too many players try too hard to play well, because “it is the big game” or a scout is watching them.

Their natural skills and talents will only come out if they relax, trust themselves and “let it happen.” Practicing the pressure exercise from the last email will help tremendously.

Cllege football players during gameYoung athletes are especially susceptible to performance anxiety, because they have not been exposed and de-sensitized to many stressful experiences like adults and professional athletes have.  Going through any experience enough times, even if you are scared and eventually makes it less frightening.  Kids haven’t had that advantage.

Add to that, the fact kids are generally more open and sensitive with their emotions and they haven’t learned to think entirely for themselves.  Wham, you’ve got a potent mixture for high anxiety, before and during competition.

I can promise you, if your child will commit to strengthening their “mental muscles”, you will see their confidence skyrocket and they will be able to manage stress and handle setbacks like a champion.

I see it as our job, as parents and coaches, to really be careful of what we say and do to make sure we are constantly building confidence, instead of tearing it down.

Parents helping  their kids on dealing with performance anxietyNow, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you need to be sweet, nice and positive 100% of the time.  Kids need to be exposed to difficulty and challenge, so they develop the ability to bounce back and keep moving toward their goals despite failures and set backs.

Click here for a link to a video I made to help your athlete after a choke.  Be sure to leave your comments and subscribe to our mental toughness tips channel in YouTube.

In the next email, we will be sending you more tips on how to walk that delicate balance between pushing them to excel and allowing them to find their own motivation.

We’ve got more free training on dealing with performance anxiety for you. Click Here to get your free video training and guided visualization to discover how to perform under pressure. Also receive a free ebook: “The 10 commandments for a great sports parent”

Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth SportsI’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth Sports

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle!

2 thoughts on “Dealing With Performance Anxiety in Sports

  1. visualization

    Very informative post thanks for the share. Visualization is very powerful. It must be used extensively by athletes and other professionals. It can be applied not just in sports but in real life. It offers great benefits, increase performance and boost confidence as well as decrease anxiety.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *