Adolescence is one of the stages in life that poses several challenges to the youth. In this transition stage from childhood to adulthood, the youth usually experience new encounters in their lives, which they had never experienced before. In some youths, these experiences have positive impacts on their behavior and character. On the other hand, other youths might experience demeaning effects of the impacts of adolescent experiences. Sports are one of the activities, which engage the youth. Research indicates that, most of the adolescents engaged in sporting activities stay away from other peer related influences such as drug abuse, crude behavior such as stealing, and other societal vices (Sharma, & Kathuria, 2012). Additionally, during the adolescent stage, the youth usually become very active and always want to experiment and exercise. Sport is one of the mostly exercised areas by the youth. Through the anxiety and desire to achieve in sports, the adolescents usually want to make the play every time, and always have the desire to be perfect in the sports that they participate in them. In most cases, adolescents do not participate in games for enjoyment and self fulfillment instead of the winning purposes that their parents, peers, and coaches need. Parents need to understand that they should see the games in the eyes of their children so that they can find out that these children could even perform better in the games if the expectations were realistic.
Performance anxiety in sports is also referred to as stage fright. This stage fright or sports performance anxiety is usually used to fear, anxiety, or persistent phobia. This might be encouraged by the requirement of an individual to perform in front of the crowd. Sporting activities usually attract a large crowd of supporters and opposes, which the athletes have to deal with them. The fear or the worry is usually related to being evaluated about the performance of the individual during competitive sporting events. Some coaches and experts have described stage fright as the moment when the adolescent athlete freezes. The fear of failure therefore becomes so irresistible that the levels of the skills of the athlete becomes diminishing because they feel nervous or insecure. In some cases these athletes seem to underperform even though they might have the abilities to perform. Sports anxiety therefore becomes very challenging for the athletes. They have to practice frequently in order to overcome such challenges. Additionally, performing before crowds frequently adds to the advantage of gaining the experience to handle large crowds.
There are different symptoms that can be observed to determine the anxiety among children. In some adolescents, they cannot go to sleep the night before a game. These youths will stare the whole night in anticipation of the game. Secondly, the adolescent might be very anxious about the game that he or she fails to eat. In these cases, the adolescent might not even hate having people around them. The most damaging aspect of the adolescent sport anxiety lies in the cases where people around them criticize their efforts. In some cases, this might work to the advantage of the teenager since he or she might work very hard to improve his sporting skills and capabilities.
Some studies have identified that performance anxiety among the adolescents impedes sports performance. Some parents might notice this as the watch the developments of their children in different sports including soccer, baseball, and basketball among several other sports. Many of the sporting events that make the parents of these adolescents uncomfortable include the issues of developmental skills issues, which they expect the coaches to address. All the times that a young athlete begins to have success, they build confidence in their parents, team, and coaches. The development of this confidence in them results in the continuous anxiety to practice frequently and consistently. Practice makes perfect, therefore, with the continuous practice in the games, the young athletes have the ability to perform their skills during an actual encounter in games.
Parents and other elderly persons in the society bring about competition among adolescents, which translates to higher anxiety to practice in adolescent sports. Generally, most children today are under the pressure than they were in the past to meet the expectations of the adults. Coaches and parents always have higher expectations to ensure that their children and members of the sporting teams achieve the best results (Patel, Omar, & Terry, 2010). In order to meet this challenge, young athletes work very hard to ensure that they perfect their sporting skills. The higher expectations instigated by the parents and coaches also results into competition among the young adolescent athletes. In most cases, the members of sporting teams work very hard to ensure that gain recognition of their fans (Erwin, 2008). Additionally, every athlete intends to become the best in the team to satisfy their parents and coaches. Therefore, these adolescent athletes always have the feeling to perfect their skills as well as have to play every time to become conversant with the expectations of the mentors.
The normal degree anxiety is often present in adolescent athletes whenever they participate in competitive sports. In addition to the comparisons, which have been discussed above to give rise to competition among athletes, criticism also leads to sports anxiety among adolescent athletes. Critical parents, coaches, and peers can mount extra pressure among the athletes. This often makes the children to feel like their parents and the others are trying to disapprove their performance (Parental Pressure and Teen Anxiety, 2010). Disapproving performance in most cases implies that the athletes are aware of the fact that the critics do not trust their abilities.
Girls and boys respond differently to coping with sports in anxiety especially in adolescents. Research indicates that girls tend to possess more anxiety than boys (Lewthwaite & Scanlan, 1989). These researches also reveal that girls have slightly higher evaluated sports performance than the boys do. Generally, younger adolescents have little sporting abilities and skills. They also make more mistakes during sporting events and often depict less worry. However, as they grow older in their adolescence stage, they become more aware of other sporting skills as well as start likening themselves to other adolescents. Several research studies have revealed that boys tend to search for more sporting information than the girls do. This has been associated to better performance in the boys because they understand how to deal with challenging situations than the girls. On the other hand, girls try to avoid assessing the situation, thereby leading to lack of action to try to counter the situation. Even younger boys at times depict better coping abilities that older adolescent girls since they are better equipped with information.
Parents and coaches as well as peers are encouraged to praise young athletes instead of putting more emphasis on the things that they do wrong in sports or their weaknesses. These parents and coaches should also avoid criticism and comparison between young athletes. When these coaches and parents witness the progress of the young athletes, it works in building their self esteem as well as providing them with the opportunities to work harder to improve their sporting skills and abilities. Even further, in order to ensure that children athletes cope with anxiety, it is equally important to encourage them to have fun and have a strongly bonded team. Parents, coaches, and peers should also set for the young athletes realistic and achievable expectations as well as try to see the games through the eyes of their children. This ensures that the parents understand the perspective with which these children consider the games and the anxiety that come with them. Surveys of children within the adolescence stage reveal that these children do not participate in sports for the winning part of the game, but for enjoyment (qtd, (Patel, Omar, & Terry, 2010). On the other hand, the people causing the anxiety in adolescents such as parents, coaches, and the fans have the aim of winning.
While sporting activities in the society have brought about anxieties, the conclusion above indicates that parents and coaches have the most part of the role in causing these anxieties. Therefore, in order to reduce anxiety and increase sporting performance, I recommend that parents should allow the adolescents to coach themselves. Having young coaches would ensure that the children set achievable goals, thereby reducing anxiety.
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Sharma, K., & Kathuria, S. (2012). Sports Competitions: Pre-Competition Anxiety - Does It Matters?. Journal Of Education & Practice, 3(9), 130-133.
Lewthwaite R., & Scanlan TK. (Apr 1989). Predictors of competitive trait anxiety in male youth sport participants. U.S. Library of Medicine. 21(2):221-9.
Patel D. R., Omar H, & Terry M. (2010 Dec). Sport-related performance anxiety in young female athletes. U.S. Library of Medicine. 23(6):325-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2010.04.004.
Erwin, H. (2008). Middle School Students' Leisure Activity Engagement: Implications for Park and Recreation Administrators. Journal Of Park & Recreation Administration, 26(3), 59-74.