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3 Ways Young Athletes Can Manage Stress and Anxiety

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3 Ways Young Athletes Can Manage Stress and Anxiety

It's important to note that the amount of energy and fuel your body uses is increased during periods of higher stress. This can be physical stress in the form of training, racing or competing, or in the form of mental stress. It's crucial that you are adjusting your actions and recovery modalities in response to the current circumstances.

If you're a young athlete experiencing a tough week of training, taking extra time off to recover, a longer warm up, going easier in the gym etc, are all ideas to counteract the increased physical demands. The same has to be done to adjust to the increased mental demands. Your training needs to be eased and nutrition increased in response to the mental stress.

Different types of stress that will influence energy demands include:

  • Sport training
  • Strength training
  • Sport
  • School
  • Social life
  • Relationships
  • Busy school periods (exams, assessments, presentations)

Implementing mindfulness and breathing work before training sessions during these higher stress periods can be useful as well. These aim to keep you in the moment and grounded to your current task. Anxiety can begin to creep in when you have so many thoughts clouding your judgment, and this anxiety will affect your decision making and ability to perform at your useful high standard. The frustration of not meeting your own expectations can then snowball, compounding the negative thoughts into severely impacting sport performance.

The following 3 strategies will help youth athletes manage the increased stress and recover adequately:

Strategy #1

  • Increase food and hydration as the body uses more fuel to manage times of stress

    - Ensuring you are eating good foods (lean meat, fruits, vegetables etc) and avoiding processed and high sugar foods which lead to spikes in your energy and mood.

Strategy #2

  • No electronic devices 1 hour before sleep, it's more likely to keep you up and have a poor night's sleep.

Strategy #3

  • A good night's sleep (8 hours +) will:

    - Consolidate the day's training

    - Allows your cells and tissue to repair back to full strength

    - Alleviates negative mental state i.e. poor mental performance from
      that day

    - Improves reaction times

    - Improve work capacity and power output

    - Overall mood improvement

For further information on how we can help your young athlete manage stress and anxiety and improve their sport performance, contact us today.


Matt Hucul

Strength Coach

Inner Athlete Performance

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