Your Future Olympian Summit


How to Overcome Performance Anxiety as a Young Athlete Part 2

How to Overcome Performance Anxiety as a Young Athlete Part 2

To overcome performance anxiety, knowing where it´s coming from is important.

Since this is part 2, let me give you a quick overrun of part 1 of the topic.

It might not s easy as it sounds to find out where the anxiety is coming from, but knowing the real root of it helps solve the problem. The roots I was talking about in part 1 have been:  


  • Missing Confidence


For confidence, I still think it´s most important not to try to do something special in competition but to stick with the skills that are developed in training. 


  • Missing Trust


When kids feel that coaches, parents, or other supporters don´t trust in their abilities, they can start doubting themself. 


  • Bad Experiences.


Making sure to go into a competition with enough good experiences (or no expectations).


  • Fear of Disappointing Others


Make sure a win doesn´t get overtreated. Of course, a win should be celebrated, but giving it an overload on a celebration can cause problems when it doesn´t come to a win the next time. Even when it makes sense not to celebrate a loss, a young brain can connect that with disappointing others. We don´t need to make the loss better than it was, but we need to let the kid have some fun afterward. Especially when it tried its best. 

Okay, let´s move on with three more situations that may create performance anxiety and how to avoid or reduce them.    


  • Feeling Overwhelmed


It can be a lot, traveling to new places, meeting new people, staying at different places, competing at bigger venues, etc. That´s usually the nice part about youth sports, kids can ease into that. It´s obviously a different situation for someone who is used to traveling than someone who isn´t as experienced. If overwhelm might be an issue, it is a good idea to prepare the kids with as much information as possible and make it sound as fun as possible - Also because it is a lot of fun! The coach can provide a plan and show some pictures, maybe even videos, of how it´s looking at the facility, the competition is happening, and the place they are staying. Having some official rules - not to bother, but for the kids as orientation can help as well. Coaches may collect questions and create a Q&A page for upcoming events. In this way, kids who don´t care don´t have to sit in long boring meetings, and the ones, who would not ask their questions anyway, have a place to go to to check answers. 


  • Feeling unprepared


Feeling unprepared totally kills confidence. I take the risk of repeating myself and want to point out again that appropriate training is most important not just for physical preparation but the mental aspect of it as well. If training was interrupted by illness or injuries, it is okay to lower expectations to the level the preparation can provide. Preparing for a competition is also knowing when to be at the venue, airport, train station, or pick-up point and what to have in the bag to bring. In short: avoid chaos. 


  • Uncertainty


We just can not look into the future, and because of that, athletes may feel some uncertainty which is actually always part of the game. If we knew what would happen exactly in the future, it would be boring. We can prepare as much as possible, but we only can act in the here and now. Knowing that this is the case for everyone out in the fields, the tracks, on stage, and other sports facilities may be a good pointer for those who are a bit anxious about what all can happen in the upcoming competition. But to help, it might be good to go over all sorts of scenarios to calm down athletes and bring them to a stage where it´s possible to focus on the actions to take. 

Sport creates lots of emotions in a big spectrum. This all makes it so exciting not just to be part of the competition, but also to watch. If a young athlete shows just a little bit of performance anxiety it actually can be good for the athlete as long as the problem gets solved. It is confidence boosting when one either overcome feelings like that or to beable to control them so that they do not effect performance negatively. 

Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)

Related Articles: 

How to Overcome Performance Anxiety as a Young Athlete Part 1

Preparing for a Big Event

Feeling Comfortable at the Start Line


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