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ATHLETES AND ANXIETY

Hey Wellness Warriors!

I am a licensed mental health counselor who works with many high school athletes in my private practices. Recently, I had the privilege of helping a high school sophomore soccer player with her generalized anxiety during our sessions. However, our last session primarily focused on the pressure she feels on the soccer field, particularly the pressure to perform at a high level. It’s not uncommon for high school athletes to experience anxiety for various reasons, and some common sources of anxiety among them include:

  1. Performance pressure: Athletes often feel pressured to excel, whether from coaches, parents, peers, or themselves. This pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety, especially in competitive or high-stakes situations.

  2. Injury or illness: Dealing with an injury or illness can cause anxiety about an athlete’s ability to perform or recover fully.

  3. Team dynamics: Relationships with teammates can be a source of anxiety, especially if there’s conflict or tension within the team.

  4. College or scholarship opportunities: Athletes aspiring to play at the college level or receive scholarships may feel anxious about impressing recruiters.

  5. Time management: Balancing academics, athletics, and other commitments can be challenging, leading athletes to feel anxious about meeting all their responsibilities.

During our session, my client and I discussed some helpful strategies:

  1. Practice relaxation techniques: To reduce anxiety, we explored deep breathing, visualization, and meditation. On the field, she’s going to try the 3/6 breath technique (inhaling for a count of 3 and exhaling for a count of 6). Off the field, she plans to use body scans before bedtime to promote relaxation.

  2. Prioritize self-care: Taking time for rest, exercise, and healthy eating is essential for supporting physical and emotional well-being. My client decided to spend more time playing with her dog as a form of self-care.

  3. Embrace new opportunities: We discussed the importance of letting go of the past, including previous games, goals, and mistakes. Focusing on the present moment and using her breath as an anchor will help her stay in the here and now.

We encourage all athletes to openly discuss the stress and pressure they may experience both on and off the field. Don’t hesitate to talk to your coach or parents about your feelings. If anxiety starts to interfere with your daily life or ability to function, seeking professional help is a wise step.

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