Did you recently get benched? Get yelled at? Feel like giving up? Maybe even suffer a season-ending injury?
If so, you’re not alone. Thousands of young athletes feel the sting of anxiety resulting from falling short of personal expectations in organized sports.
The worst thing you can do is to quit. Find something about your game that makes it worth it to continue. It was once your dream and it still is. Don’t lose sight of that. That being said, here are the five most important things that one must do as a struggling young athlete to overcome hardship.
1) Stay positive – no matter what, always maintain a positive attitude. Even if there’s nothing to be positive about, pretend there is. Over time, this will endear you to your teammates and make your ever-important relationship with them grow stronger. It will also display to coaches the level of your character – also an important attribute for a struggling player to have.
2) Communicate – talk to your coach. Let him or her know what your concerns are. Make known what your goals are, and how the two of you can mutually benefit. If you’re not playing, don’t suffer in silence. Figure out what you need to improve on and do your best to make it happen.
3) Be vocal – there are few things that coaches admire more than a vocal leader. If you’ve had your play do the talking for you and it hasn’t worked, perhaps it’s time to open your mouth. Be sure to lead by example to make your words credible, but encourage your teammates and provide constructive criticism to other struggling players. Even if you haven’t improved on the field or court, your new swagger may say you have.
4) Clear your mind – do other things. Don’t allow a sport to be your be-all end-all. Hang out with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Focus on your schoolwork. Start playing an instrument. Maybe your lack
of performance has been a result of mounting pressure you’ve put on yourself to be successful
in one thing. Introduce yourself to other things you enjoy and you won’t feel as much pressure.
5) Never ever ever EVER give up – This specific quote is from Winston Churchill. It’s very generic and a bit redundant, but this can’t be stressed enough. This is targeted mainly to young high school athletes. Whether you didn’t get much playing time last season or are riding the bench to begin a season, do NOT give up. Anything can happen. Players get hurt. Players quit. Players get arrested around school or town for being boneheads.
Believe that you WILL regret it for the rest of your life. If you’re reading this because you’re frustrated enough to find an answer, then you care way too much to ever give up. And even if you don’t achieve what you wanted, you’ll be a better person for sticking out and may just make some lifelong friends in the process.