Helping Teenagers Overcome The Pressure of Sports


5:30 am – wake up; 6:00 am – workout; 7:00 am – shower and breakfast; 8:00 am – school starts; 3:00 pm – school ends; 3:30 pm – after school practice; 6:00 pm – group project meeting; 7:00 pm – dinner at home; 8:00 pm – daily chores; 9:00 pm – homework and study; 12:00 am – sleep

The cycle repeats.

Teens carry a packed schedule as they try to balance sports and academics. They have little time for themselves between morning and evening practices, a full schedule of classes, and keeping up with their responsibilities at home. Regardless of physical exhaustion and the lack of sleep, teens continue to strive to meet the expectations of parents, peers, and coaches. The pressure to continuously perform can take a toll on a teenager’s mental health.

“Trying so hard just mentally stresses you too much. I think that’s what gets me. It tears me up.”

It can be both exciting and rewarding to watch your teen perform on the field. However, as a parent, you can’t help but feel helpless when you see your teen struggling to manage the pressure.

Here are some ways you can support your teen:

Relaxation Techniques:

Teenagers may experience increased stress during important games such as playoffs. Teens fear making a mistake that could cost the school their spot in the championship.

“It’s hard because you’re trying not to mess up. Like at any moment you mess up, everybody is watching.”

  • Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery can be effective in calming stress before a big game.
  • Teens can use these techniques to stay in the present and have a focused mindset.
  • With regular practice, relaxation techniques can relieve stress in other areas of life.

Encourage a Balanced Life:

Competing at the varsity college level would be a dream come true for any teen athlete. Teens spend countless hours practicing and perfecting their athletic skills to reach this goal. However,  of the 8 million students currently participating in high school sports, only 6% will move on to compete at the NCAA college level. The odds of getting a sports scholarship are very low.

  • Talk to your teen and discuss whether it is really worth it to give up time with friends and family to pursue sports.
  • Sports don’t need to become your teen’s entire identity.
  • Encourage your teen to explore their interests in other areas (school clubs, volunteering, music, part-time jobs).

What to Avoid:

Often times, parents can live vicariously through their children. Parents may be putting added pressure on their teenagers without even realizing it.

“If you’re not starting, then you don’t go out this weekend.”  

  • Be sure to provide praise regardless of a win.
  • Refrain from overly praising your teen’s teammate or comparing your teen to a teammate.
  • Avoid disappointed facial expressions, tone, and body posture.
  • Resist the urge to shout instructions from the sidelines. Coaching is best left to the coach.

Original Source:

School sports provide opportunities to form friendships, generate a sense of belonging, and improve confidence. For some, sports may relieve the stress of everyday life. For others, it only adds to the pressure of high school. It’s important to maintain open communication with your teen and discuss concerns regularly. As a parent, stay positive, provide encouragement, and unconditional support. If you sense that your teen is struggling to cope with stress, you can always reach out to school counselors for additional assistance.

If you or someone you know needs help:

For a database of international resources visit International Association for Suicide Prevention

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