Young Athletes Who Perform Tight or Nervous

How to Perform Freely

We received an email from a young athlete what is feeling nervous

“I have a figure skating competition next week and I was wondering if there are some tips to help me for the competition. I get really nervous for no reason. And I do really well in practice but not in the competition. In the competition I kind of get tense, and it seems like my mind is not really focused, and my technique isn’t the same as in practice.”


This young athlete says she is getting “nervous for no reason.”

But that’s generally not true; it’s likely she’s experiencing underlying thoughts or fears. As sports parents, you should help young athletes identify such fears…

In this case, ask your sports kids what they worry about. Do they think about the outcome of the competition? Do they worry about performing badly in front of their friends and parents? Are they afraid of messing up or losing? Do they worry if you’ll be happy with their performance?

Whatever their fears, the next step is to help them identify the underlying fear and overcome it; as this will undermine trust in their skills.

For example, you might tell them to focus on their program and not what others think or what the future of the competition holds.

They need to focus on the moment–the next pass, shot or move. You want to help them let go of expectations and fears that prevent them from focusing on the here and now.

In addition, your athletes might not trust in their own skills when feeling nervous about outcomes.

They may over control their well-learned skills when they should instead be trusting in what they have learned.

You want them to perform intuitively…

Help them to focus on their talents and abilities. It should include young athletes’ best qualities in sports, reminders of what they’ve learned in practice and best moments.

To perform freely, your athletes should focus on one play at a time, let go of outcomes, not think about what others will think about their performance, and have fun.

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The Composed Sports Kid

“The Composed Sports Kid” audio and workbook digital download program for young athletes and their parents or coach helps kids cope with frustration and anger in sports. Help your sports kids learn how to manage expectations and let go of mistakes so they can keep their head in the game. 

The Composed Sports Kid system is really two programs in one–one program to train parents and coaches how to help their kids practice composure, and one program that teaches young athletes–ages 6 to 13–how to improve composure, let go of mistakes quickly, have more self-acceptance, and thus enjoy sports more

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