Anxiety’s Effect on Young Athletes


  “No I shouldn’t do this, I can’t do this”. “Why did I make that terrible play”. Anxiety is a major setback in a majority of young athletes throughout the world. It’s something that we keep quiet, or we don’t want people to help us because we don’t see it as a problem. Having anxiety in a game can be explained, but you can’t really feel the full measures or it until you experience it for yourself. Anxiety among athletes can come in many different ways, just getting headaches and physical pain, seeing different things, not being able to do simple tasks without the fear of others and messing up. Anxiety in the realm of youth sports is a problem that deserves more attention nationwide, and young athletes should be advocated for and helped with this epidemic through their young careers.


         Of course, there’s different ways to cope with it, either through medication or ways that someone’s therapist or psychiatrist has given them. Twenty-five percent of student athletes are diagnosed and recognized with anxiety and are given ways to help themselves. About 30-60% of all young athletes have anxiety but don’t get the help they need or the assistance one with a therapist or doctor would get. Most of the reason why they don’t get noticed is because athletes never really believe they have a mental health problem and it’s regularly disregarded. This leaves athletes lost and trying to find ways to deal with it, but most just leave it be and try not to think about it, which doing makes it worse.

Personal Experience

         Having played sports my entire life, I deal with anxiety to a certain extent when I’m on the field. Some people say they don’t get nervous or affected in any way, and for some that may be true, but for a handful of athletes that’s just simply not a reality. Last season when playing for Huntingtown’s JV soccer team, we were playing against La Plata. I had gotten fouled in the box and won a penalty kick. My teammates trusted me to take it, and I wanted to take it. The score was 1-1 and there were only 10 minutes left. I was ready to take it and of course I was nervous and feeling a little queasy in my stomach, but nothing severe like certain cases of anxiety. I took the penalty without any confidence and it was not a good one, and ended up getting easily saved. The worst feeling. “Nothing can make it worse can it?” No one was happy with me. I’m mad with myself and for the rest of the game I didn’t feel like I was even playing on the field. I felt like everything was going on around me. I was there in the moment, but at the same time I wasn’t.

Ever since then I have been occasionally nervous and anxious before and during games. For me it’s a confidence thing especially for soccer. If you’re scoring goals and playing well, you will have confidence and play better and especially for me I will not get any sort of anxiety and it’ll just be me having fun out there. I interviewed another player on my team, who wanted to stay anonymous but also has a very similar viewpoint as to mine. He also agrees with the confidence aspect of it, saying “When I score a goal or two, of course I will feel better with myself, and I wont be nervous anymore because I know what I’m capable of”. He also told me how earlier last year he was going through a rough patch and not scoring and playing well and was getting more and more nervous about messing up and letting the team down. This just shows the aspect of how mental health can take a toll on an athlete, but it’s truly up to them to fix things, believe in themselves, and fight it.

Overall, anxiety has a large grasp on youth sports and it is having an ever-lasting effect on the careers of these young athletes who strive for greatness. Once again, anxiety is being dealt with by some, and others who are just trying to turn the page. But no matter how you feel when playing and what effect it has on you from the littlest to the biggest, always reach out to someone who can help and find a way to move past your anxiety and fight back.