The Kids Coach: How to reduce football stress

What should you do if your child worries too much before playing football or gets too worked up after a game? The Kids Coach Naomi Richards offers some advice.

Before a football game your child can feel stressed and after a game they can do too.

Pre-match your child may worry about their own performance or about the strengths of the other team. They may worry they are going to let their team mates down, worry they may get injured or about who is watching them play.

After a game they may feel stress because they did not play as well as they had anticipated.

We all know some stress can be healthy, but what if your child gets worked up too much before a game? That is not so good.

We can help our child de-stress before a game in a number of ways:

1. Get them to visualise themselves playing well

2. Work though the ‘what ifs’ – what if the other team are stronger? What would that mean? How do they know the other team are unbeatable? What is the evidence?

3. Get them to visualise themselves on the pitch thinking about the one thing they love about playing football – the crowd, the cheers, getting the ball past their opponent

4. Help them to relax – do something different so they aren’t sitting around waiting – read a book, watch TV, listen to music etc.

5. Get them to do some deep-breathing exercises or muscle relaxation (where you tense the muscles of the body and then release the tension)

6. Change the way they think about competitions – think about having a good time and doing their best

7. Change any negative thoughts into positive ones – change that 'can’t' into a 'can' and 'I won’t' into 'I will'

8. Focus on past successes – what they did well in the last couple of games

9. Remind them that there are many aspects of a game that are out of their control - what they can control is their own performance and preparing for it

10. Remind them they are part of a team and they win and lose as a team so they are not letting anyone down

As for after the game, remind them that they did the best they could and get them to focus on the best parts of their game and talk about how they could improve their weaker moments (I mentioned this in an earlier article: Keeping the belief going).

It is important that our children only feel healthy stress so I hope these tools will work for you and your child.

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Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, The Parent's Toolkit, shares key life tools for you to help your children successfully navigate their own childhood problems and grow up into happy, confident and resilient young adults.

The Parent's Toolkit was described by The Sun as “clear and to the point... a must-read for parents”. It is published by Vermillion and is available to buy on Amazon.co.uk.

Put your questions to The Kids Coach

If you are a parent or coach and would like Naomi's advice on any issue that might affect a young footballer, then please leave a comment below and it could well be addressed in next month's column.

Alternatively email thekidscoach@clubwebsite.co.uk or tweet @thekidscoach.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Other articles by The Kids Coach:

* Keeping the balance
* What if my child wants to quit?
* Does your child respect their peers?
* Keeping the belief going
* Football crazy, football mad
* It's the taking part that counts
* Giving young players confidence to try new things
* Parents: To shout or not to shout?
* Young footballers must see respect to show respect

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