10 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Sports-Induced Stress

Sports are competitive, and young players sometimes have a hard time dealing with the pressures of the game. Add in the demands of school, and you may end up with one stressed kid. Here are 10 tips for helping your child manage sports-induced stress.


1. Provide the Right Encouragement

To help your child manage stress, you must provide encouragement without adding pressure. Don’t push too hard, overreact to mistakes or losses, or make your child feel like sports is the most important thing. It’s not.

2. Watch Your Sideline Behavior

Are you yelling at coaches, refs and umpires? Your sideline behavior can greatly add to your child’s stress both on and off the field. Help your child by keeping it in check.

3. Teach Deep-Breathing Techniques

Teach your child to find a quiet place to sit when feeling stressed. Inhaling slowly through the nose, then holding the breath for five seconds and releasing it slowly will help limit stress. This exercise should be repeated five times in one sitting.

4. Teach Muscle Relaxation

A good stress reduction technique is to contract a group of muscles tightly, hold for five seconds and release slowly. Cognitive thinking about muscle relaxation can make a stressed child relax significantly.

5. Walk Your Child Through Visualization

Ask your child close his eyes and picture a peaceful place, like his room or the beach. Then, have him imagine the stress flowing out of his body while he thinks of the happy, peaceful place. This can take a while for kids to grasp, but it is a powerful tool once they do.

6. Focus on Nutrition and Sleep

Kids need proper fuel and proper sleep to do well in any aspect of life, including sports. If you are rushing so much that you are forced to eat drive-thru food regularly, your kids’ overall health is going to suffer. Focus on proper nutrition and be strict about sleep schedules to help kids cope with stress.

Kid Sleeping.web

7. Find a Fun Distraction

You need a break from work, and your child needs a break from school and sports. Suggest that you take a walk together, have a sleepover with friends, go see a movie with you, or any other activity that will get your child’s mind off the stress and the sport that is causing it.

8. Don’t Require Perfection

Make sure you are not aiming for perfection, because your kid will pick up on that quickly. Perfection is not the name of the game in youth sports, and to limit stress, you must avoid perfectionist thinking.

9. Encourage Mastery

While perfection is not desired, kids who are unsure of their abilities will feel stressed. If your child needs extra help, arrange for some private lessons or coaching to help achieve mastery. Psychology Today found mastery coaching to be a highly effective way to balance winning with learning in youth sports.

10. Ensure Your Plate Isn’t Too Full

Kids need a chance to just be kids. KidsHealth.org warns that if your plate is overly full, you must find places where you can cut activities. You can encourage your child to focus on one sport or choose a new one that requires less work.

Family walking on path holding hands smiling

Brandon Capaletti is the Vice President of Cisco Athletic, a Maryland-based athletic apparel manufacturer that designs, produces and distributes custom uniforms for 18 different sports including basketball, soccer, and baseball.


Brian Covert  

Really great post and an interesting resource for parents of young athletes. Think your tips are applicable to any family in any situation where a child is competing and not just solely in sport.

Obviously we’re big supporters of tip 9 and believe that giving a child confidence (or not having them lose confidence) because they aren’t able to get a skill or fundamental right away is vital. We also believe there are opportunities using technology for kids and young athletes to not ever have to feel as if they “aren’t good enough” or “can’t get something.” That is why we started Up My Game as we think every young athlete should have access to top coaching without having to be in the same room or even same city) or having to pay ludicrous sums of money.

We’d be thrilled if you checked us out sometime.

Until then, thanks again for the post,



I really enjoyed reading this article. I coach a girls U12 rec team and I will be sending this article to all the parents and my assistant coach. I think you were Spot On with all these tips. Thank you

Colette W  

Great article to use in my home and to also encourage new & veteran parents to the sports arena! ! Thank you!


As a youth soccer coach, I see a lot of pressure put on kids from parents. We just have to let them play! We have to remember that they should strive for improvement and having fun, not being perfect. Just as we would in our own jobs.

Doc B  

These are very good tips. As a sport psychologist I teach clients many of these techniques. If your child does not respond to these or you would like more help I would recommend seeking out a sport psychologist.


como treina meninos no coletivo , sem deixa eles ansiosos , e ter o prazer de jogar bem e não deixar o compamheiro chamar o outro de ruim.

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