Young athletes face tough transitions on a regular basis. Whether it's something big, like a move to a new school, or just the start of a season with a new coach, these transitions can be significant sources of anxiety. But you can help your young athlete navigate these challenging times.
Here, TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, shares six ways to help your athlete reduce their anxiety in times of transition. Remember, not every method will be the right fit for your child, so you may need to try a few exercises before landing on the one that helps your athlete the most.
1. Ride the wave
Chapman likes to tell all his athletes to "ride the wave" when it comes to feeling negative emotions like anxiety, frustration, and fear. "I encourage athletes to feel their emotions, rather than avoiding them or ignoring them," he says. Don't tell your athlete to ignore their feelings: acknowledge them instead. "I like the metaphor of riding the wave because emotions truly do come in waves, and they will flow and ebb,” he adds. “Distress is uncomfortable, but it’s also tolerable and impermanent. Feel that feeling, and know that when you ride the wave, it always comes down again."