High School Athlete Competition Tension: Things Parents Can Do to Help

Competition tension is a problem that can face athletes of all ages and background. However, high school athletes often have even more pressure on them to succeed and excel and they may often be faced with more tension and stress than other athletes. Competition tension can lead to burnout or “crashing” and it is a leading cause for many high school athletes to quit. It will also affect your performance on the field or in a game or event.

There are some things that parents can do to help reduce and relieve competition tension for their high school athlete. Here are some tips:

Discuss the game before and after- Spend some time before and after the game talking it out with your athlete. Don’t grill her about her performance or nag her about what she has been practicing or how she needs to perform. Just allow her to talk openly about the game, release an tensions or fears and reflect on performance in a positive manner.

Spending time together after the game/competition-Win or lose, the time you spend with your athlete after the game is important. Some high school athletes will go out as a team immediately after a game but spending time with family instead can build a stronger athlete with less tension. Suggest a family activity, go to dinner or a movie or go somewhere to talk and reflect on the game or to enjoy a nice relaxing evening at home.

Give emotional support-Your emotional support before and after a competition is important. Be consistent in your emotional support whether the child wins or loses. Encourage your child to express his feelings and be sure to give him positive reinforcement about how proud you are of him. Be with him as much as possible and give him an outlet to express his feelings- whether positive or negative. You don’t want him to get stuck on a downhill train of negativity but even kids need to an outlet for their disappointments in order to move on from them.

Keep it positive- When discussing the game or competition, always keep it positive before and after the game. Regardless of the outcome, athletics should be a positive, rewarding experience. Losing a game or event is not the end of the world. Teach your athlete that even a loss is an important stepping stone to becoming a successful athlete.

Look to the future- Help your high school athlete learn to look to the future. There will always be another game, another event, another opportunity or another chance. Help your teen see past the moment and into the future and remember to have fun.

A track athlete and basketball player in school, Lisa now coaches youth soccer, basketball and softball and enjoys golf, running, rock climbing and other sports as well as takes a vested interest in health and nutrition for athletes of all ages and experience levels.