How to reduce sports anxiety felt by kids

How to reduce sports anxiety felt by kids
If your kid becomes visibly anxious prior to participating in a sport, you'll know just how heartbreaking this scenario is.

Your usually care free and expressive child become withdrawn and reserved. They start to display lethargic tendencies. Sweaty palms, pale skin colour and loss of appetite become noticeable.

You may not realise that you can turn this around!

Teaching your kid how to manage sports anxiety is an important job; it can prevent them from avoiding sports and physical activity - not just now, but longer term. We want to encourage our kids to be as active and healthy as possible.

How sports anxiety can impact your child

While some sports psychologists acknowledge that a level of anxiety can enhance sporting performance, plenty of research highlights that sports anxiety does more harm than good:

  • Insecurity and self-doubt in the classroom: experiencing sports anxiety is an indication that your child can be overcome with doubt when it comes to performing tasks. Sports anxiety could transfer across into exam and assessment task anxiety.

  • Underperformance: sports anxiety can create physiological processes such as increased adrenalin, excessive sweating, and loss of appetite. Anyone of these events can cause your kid to lose focus, muscle cramping and reduced decision making efficiency. All of which can result in your kid failing to perform to their potential. In turn, this may manifest into reduced interest in sport and physical activity.

  • Social exclusion: an indirect implication of your child experiencing insecurity and underperformance is self-generated social exclusion. In other words, your child may intentionally withdraw themselves from their social groups so as to avoid situations where situations that trigger their sports anxiety to occur. In turn, this may result in children experiencing reduced self-confidence on and off the sporting field.

Strategies to help your kid manage their sports anxiety

As a parent, you can employ various strategies to reduce the degree of sports anxiety your child may experience:

  • Positive reinforcement: offer your child with positive feedback about their decision making, movement, communication or cooperation skills on and off the sporting field.

  • Rewards: providing your child with extrinsic rewards to applaud and acknowledge the effort and performance of your child can serve to reassure and calm your child.

  • Presence: being at the game or at the training ground can provide a powerful form of support and reassurance to your child. This could dowse any possible sports anxiety episodes.

  • Calmness: children pick up on the mood of those they look up to such as their parents, coaches, and teachers. You have to do your utmost to give off vibes of calmness, self-confidence, and clarity so your child absorbs those moods. In turn, this could serve to dampen the causes of sports anxiety for your child.


For more information about how you can better manage your kid's sports anxiety, please contact the expert contributor.

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