Sports are supposed to be an outlet for kids–a way for them to have fun and stay active. Adding competition to the sport naturally adds some pressure, but in some cases, the pressure on kids in sports has gotten out of hand. Not only do kids feel the pressure to win, many of them feel pressure to please their parents and their coach, to earn college scholarships or to become a professional.
Help Your Kids
It’s normal for kids to feel pressure before a game or tournament. You can help ease some pressure by making sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep before the game, according to the Kids Health website. Serve your child a nutritious meal the day of the game. Be supportive at the practices and games, but not overbearing. Right before the game, if your child is anxious, help him to do some deep breathing exercises or stretches to calm his nerves and warm up his body.
Pressure Can Backfire
Kids who feel too much pressure in their sport may decide to give it up, according to CNN. Some kids play sports so much they don’t have time to do anything else. Other kids start so young, they burn out early. Some sports require extensive travel and can be demanding. Kids can feel trapped.
Parents can unknowingly put pressure on their children. Some parents try to relive the childhood they had or the childhood they always wanted to have through their children. Other parents want to escape from their own lives, so they push their children to win. Parents can even spend big money on professional coaches and trainers for their elementary school-age children. Sometimes, when parents invest a great deal of money, the condition is that the child should specialize in that sport and win.
Pressure is Widespread
An indication that pressure has gotten to children is that an estimated 70 percent of children quit their sport by age 13, according to the Parents website. Many kids say they drop out because the ultra-competitive leagues frustrate them.
Decreasing the Pressure
Former baseball star Cal Ripken Jr. suggests on the Parents website that parents do their homework before enrolling their child in a sports program. Study the league. Talk to other parents. Watch some of the games. Find out how many nights a week the league requires of your child. Determine the values of the league–whether the emphasis is on winning or teaching and having fun. If you want to avoid a high-pressure league, beware of leagues with too many rules, such as not being able to play if you miss practice or admonitions against participating in other extracurricular activities.
- Cute little blond boy playing baseball. image by Lisa Eastman from Fotolia.com