We’ve spoken before about the importance of mental health in young athletes. Mental health affects physical health and athletic performance, while the two former can affect one’s mental health. Sports can be a great way to boost a child’s social skills and self-esteem on and off the playing field. However, as children near adolescence, they become particularly vulnerable, and sports alone may not be enough to keep children well adjusted within their schools, communities and personal lives. Furthermore, as sports become harder and more competitive, the psychological pressure can mount. Below are a few tips for helping your teen athlete stay physically and mentally strong:
Physical activity is something we obviously recommend here. The social component of team sports, or simply having a running buddy, will make activities more relaxing and fun. When you’re focusing on a physical task, you’re less likely to think about the mental pressures of your outside life. Besting yourself can be a great confidence booster and of course who can forget about the endorphin release that comes from pushing one’s physical limits.
Getting some sleep. According to Psychology Today (Erlanger A Turner Ph.D. on Feb 22, 2014), adolescents should get nine hours of sleep. Between school, sports, and other activities, this can be hard. To make sure they get enough rest, teens should avoid drinking caffeine and doing stimulating activities too late in the day. Staring at computer and TV screens late at night can also keep the brain awake longer. Avoiding certain activities at certain hours helps one stay rested and focused.
Talking to someone. We all know that during our teenage years, communication with our parents can become difficult. Communication, however is one of our biggest stress relievers. If you feel that your teenager is under pressure and you are unable to communicate, it may be time to see someone about family counseling. Do not force your teen to talk to you as this usually causes your teen to shut down even more. If your teen is unwilling to open up, he or she may do better with a trained professional like this teen counselor in Columbia MD.
Focusing on strengths. Working with others is a great way for your teen to learn and grow, and focusing on one’s strengths helps one boost self esteem. For young athletes, helping younger children in the community through volunteer coaching can be a great way to stay mentally occupied in a positive way.
With the above mentioned guidelines, we hope that you and your teen athlete can embrace life inside and outside of sports.