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How to Cope with Too Much Pressure from Your Sport Circle

Tennis player sitting on court

Yuri A via Shutterstock

It can sometimes feel like you’re under pressure in every aspect of your life, from your grades to your sport to your social life. And to some extent, pressure is a normal and even positive part of your life, pushing you to reach your potential. But there is a point where pressure can become negative, causing you to feel stressed out and anxious rather than motivated.

In sport, pressure most commonly comes from our coaches, our parents or guardians, and our teammates and friends. Most of the time, the people pressuring you aren’t trying to make you anxious, and rarely are they even aware of how they’re making you feel.

Here, TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, is sharing a few ways to confront the pressures in your life in an active way. He’s also sharing tips for handling continued pressure if the people in your life simply don’t understand how their actions are affecting you.

Confronting pressure from your sport circle

Dealing with too much pressure from a coach

Assess it: Before you approach the coach or lodge a complaint—which may be the right thing to do!—take a moment and think about what exactly is happening between you and the coach. A coach’s job is to help you improve, and you might be feeling a certain amount of perceived pressure to perform. But is that pressure in your head, or is the coach actively making you feel as though you’re falling short?

“Good coaches tend to have the right expectations of athletes, and clearly explain them,” says Chapman. “What are the expectations that your coach has for all the athletes on the team? If you’re not abiding by those expectations, that's when a coach should be telling you to make a change. But if you feel like you’re being singled out and held to a different standard, or you’re unclear about the expectations, that’s when there is a problem.”

Handle it: Often, coach-athlete issues arise from a lack of communication. Ask your coach to lay out a specific list of expectations for the team. Ideally, this would happen at the start of the season, but there’s no wrong time to clarify expectations. “You’ll be surprised how much pressure gets taken off when you have a clear set of expectations to work with,” Chapman says.

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Athlete Health Coach TrueSport