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  • February 27, 2018 3 min read

    Your kids took summer-long training for this day. They probably spent long hours on the field after school, and even on weekends, just to practice ball handling, or running to build their endurance. They are now as quick and agile as they can be. But are they also mentally tough?

    Mental preparedness is often overlooked by beginner athletes. Most parents assume that tryouts for small teams don’t bear any pressure on their kids. After all, they’re not playing for the World Cup or anything.

    But to your child, especially if he’s very passionate about the sport, tryouts mean the world to him. “This is where my sports career begins”, he imagines. At the very least, this is his ticket to being among the cool athletic guys in school.

    So how do you help your child manage the pressure? Here are five tips you can do to help your kid with tryouts anxiety sets in. 

    A kid catching a soccer ball

    Let them know it’s okay to be anxious.

    Getting nervous over tryouts is not a sign of weakness. In fact, if your kid feels uneasy about something, it’s because he really doesn’t want to screw it up.

    So instead of just telling him to not get nervous, tell him that those feelings are valid. Everyone gets nervous, even champions! The only difference is that champions don’t let their fears get the best of them.

    Remind them of how hard they’ve worked so far.

    Nothing builds confidence like preparation and practice. Again, tryouts anxiety is just a sign of their desire to get in the team.

    If they practiced as hard as they can, then they probably have a good chance of getting in after all. Maybe there was one time they skipped dinner, stayed late at the stadium just to get a good practice run. Remind them of these moments that prove they have what it takes to be a champion. 

    A father and son playing soccer

    Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.

    The pounding heart, sweaty palms, and stiff muscles are all involuntary responses to anxiety. These physical signs are something they should watch out for because these can directly affect their performance.

    Taking slow and deliberate breaths is a great way to reduce tension. Deep breathing helps bring down the heart rate to a normal level and creates a feeling of relaxation. Here are some breathing techniques you can try together to see which one works best for your kid.

    Know exactly what to expect from the tryouts.

    Another factor that probably contributes to your child’s anxiety is the fear of the unknown. How will they be evaluated? What skills are they exactly looking for? What’s the coach like?

    A lot of these can be resolved by doing some simple research. They can approach some seniors who have been there to give them an idea of how it goes. They can even ask the coach themselves. Most coaches see eagerness as a good sign--and that’s how you make a good first impression!

    Tell them it’s all going to be okay.

    Some kids feel even more pressured to perform because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. Assure them that no matter how it turns out, it’s all going to be okay. Failing at tryouts won’t be the end as long as they practice and persevere. After all, Michael Jordan was repeatedly rejected by his high school basketball team. Yet we all know him as the sports legend that he is now.

    So those are just a few things you can do to help your kids relax a bit during tryouts. The great news is that these tips will always be useful to them even after they get in the team and start to play competitively. So go ahead, teach your little players these techniques that will help them become champions.




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