Thursday, 23 May 2024

How Parents Can Manage their Own Sport Anxiety

If you’re a parent or guardian of an athlete, you may experience pre-competition nerves and jitters just like your child. It’s natural to feel your heart beat a bit faster or have trouble sleeping the night before an important game. However, it’s important to manage your own anxiety as it can have negative effects on your young athlete. In this article, we’ll explore how your anxiety can impact your child and provide strategies for handling it in a thoughtful and effective way.

Why Your Anxiety Matters

As a parent, it’s crucial to understand that your behaviors and communication with your athlete have a significant impact. Anxious behaviors from parents can make children feel more anxious themselves. Research shows that children with anxious parents are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. However, it’s important to note that anxiety itself is not genetically transmitted, but rather the predisposition to respond to emotions in a dysregulated way is learned from parents.

How to Handle Your Anxiety

Pre-Game: Talk to Your Athlete

If you’re nervous about your athlete’s big game, it’s likely that they are feeling nervous too, and that’s perfectly normal. Instead of trying to eliminate anxiety, focus on normalizing it. Successful athletes recognize that anxiety is a natural part of competition. Have an open conversation with your athlete about their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to be anxious. Help them understand that anxiety is there to prepare them for the challenges ahead.

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During the Game: Relax

During the game, it’s important for parents to stay calm and positive. Young athletes are highly perceptive and can pick up on the emotions of those around them. If you’re visibly anxious and negative on the sidelines, it can affect your child’s performance. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths to stay calm and find positive distractions like taking photos of the game or focusing on your child’s strengths. Remember, the more positive and calm you are, the better it is for your athlete.

Post-Game: Avoid Assuming and Reward Your Athlete

If the game doesn’t go well, avoid assuming the worst and catastrophizing the outcome. Your athlete’s interpretation of the game might be different from yours. Instead of dwelling on mistakes, help your athlete focus on the learning process and what they can improve upon. Ask them questions that encourage reflection and growth.

Additionally, reinforce positive behaviors rather than punishing mistakes. Find ways to reward your athlete after each competition and celebrate extraordinary performances. Creating a positive and supportive environment will help your child’s confidence and motivation.

Handling Extreme Anxiety

If your anxiety is overwhelming and negatively affecting your athlete, you may need to consider avoiding attending the competitions or sitting out of sight. Although avoiding is not recommended, it might be necessary in some cases to protect your child’s well-being. Ultimately, the goal should be to learn to regulate your emotions so you can actively participate in your athlete’s sporting life. If necessary, seek professional help from a therapist who can assist you in managing your anxiety effectively.

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Q: How can parents manage their own sport anxiety?

A: Parents can manage their own sport anxiety by understanding the impact of their behaviors on their athlete, normalizing anxiety, and having open conversations about feelings before and after games. It’s essential to stay calm and positive during competitions and avoid assuming the worst. Instead of punishing mistakes, reward and reinforce positive behaviors. If extreme anxiety persists, seeking professional help is recommended.

Q: What should parents do if their anxiety is negatively affecting their athlete?

A: If a parent’s anxiety is negatively impacting their athlete, they may need to consider avoiding attending competitions or sitting out of sight. Although avoiding is not ideal, it might be necessary to protect the athlete’s well-being. It’s crucial for parents to learn to regulate their emotions and actively participate in their child’s sporting life. Seeking professional help from a therapist can also be beneficial.


Managing sport anxiety as a parent is crucial for your athlete’s well-being and performance. By understanding the impact of your behaviors, normalizing anxiety, and having open conversations, you can create a positive and supportive environment. Staying calm and positive during games, avoiding assumptions, and rewarding positive behaviors can help your athlete thrive. Remember, seeking professional help is always an option if anxiety becomes overwhelming. Join to discover more valuable insights and resources to navigate the world of sports parenting.