The game of hockey is meant to be a lot of fun while still teaching kids important skills. However, for some kids, sports can have a negative effect on their mental health, especially if they’re being put under a lot of sports-related pressure or are being forced into a sport they don’t enjoy.
Some young athletes may even develop sports-related anxiety, which can have a serious, detrimental effect on their lives. How can you tell if the young player in your life may be suffering from this condition? The key is to know and watch out for the warning signs.
For many young athletes, the signs of anxiety often pop up just before a game. These might include things like:
l Feeling tense in the body
l Having an upset stomach
l Shaky or tight muscles
l Racing heart
Often, kids won’t tell you how they’re feeling, so if you’re concerned, ask your child outright if he or she experiences any of these anxiety signs before a game.
One of the major hallmarks of anxiety is excessive worrying. Your child might regularly worry that he won’t play or perform well. He might be scared of letting down his parents, teammates, coach, or even all three. Players also sometimes worry about making mistakes or not living up to expectations.
If these types of worries and fears become excessive, an anxiety problem might be present.
The good news is that there is a lot of help for sports-related anxiety. Young players can talk with a counselor to learn strategies to cope with their anxiety. Make sure your player knows that he can always talk openly and honestly about what he’s feeling.
And, in some cases, as hard as it may be, giving up the sport may be the answer. If a child really doesn’t want to do it, and it’s causing him worry, sometimes a break may be long overdue.
The key is to talk to the child in your life, to honor and validate his feelings, and to strive to make the decision that is in his best interest.