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When the Sports Start Winning!

As a sport psychologist, I understand the dedication and passion it takes from parents to support youth athletes in their high-level sports endeavors. While the journey is often rewarding, it can also present challenges that may impact a child's well-being. Recognizing signs of struggle early on is crucial in ensuring they receive the necessary support and guidance. Here are some key indicators to watch out for:

Performance Decline:

  • Noticeable decrease in athletic performance despite consistent training.

  • Example: Your child consistently performed well but suddenly struggles to meet previous standards, or their enthusiasm for training dwindles.

Changes in Behavior:

  • Sudden mood swings or increased irritability.

  • Withdrawal from social interactions or team activities.

  • Example: Your once outgoing child becomes more reserved and avoids spending time with teammates or coaches.

Physical Complaints:

  • Frequent complaints of fatigue, headaches, or muscle soreness.

  • Unexplained injuries or recurrent illnesses.

  • Example: Your child frequently complains of headaches before games or experiences unexplained muscle pains despite adequate rest and recovery.

Loss of Interest:

  • Decreased enthusiasm for the sport they once loved.

  • Expressing a desire to quit or expressing feelings of burnout.

  • Example: Your child starts skipping practices or expresses disinterest in upcoming competitions they previously looked forward to.


  • Setting unrealistic standards for themselves.

  • Experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety related to performance.

  • Example: Your child becomes overly critical of their performance, feeling devastated by minor mistakes and fearing failure.

Academic Decline:

  • Noticeable drop in academic performance.

  • Difficulty balancing sports and academics.

  • Example: Your child's grades start slipping, and they struggle to keep up with schoolwork due to extensive sports commitments.

Communication Breakdown:

  • Reluctance to discuss their feelings or experiences in sports.

  • Avoiding conversations about challenges or concerns.

  • Example: Your attempts to talk about their athletic experiences are met with defensiveness or avoidance.

As parents, it's essential to maintain open communication with your child and their coaches to address any concerns promptly. Remember, it's okay for athletes to face challenges, but providing them with the necessary support and resources can help them navigate these obstacles and emerge stronger.

Overall, staying attuned to these signs can help you identify when your child may be struggling and in need of additional support. By being proactive and responsive to their needs, you can help them overcome obstacles and thrive both on and off the field. If you are looking for additional support, please schedule a free, introductory phone call today.

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