First Game Jitters

By Jon Buzby | Posted 9/13/2019

Nerves are a part of everyday life, so there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t exist in the world of sports – at every level.

This is especially true the morning of the first game for any youth athlete, where they venture into the unknown and start wondering if they’re ready.  

Countless kids wake up on game day with an upset stomach. Not literally upset, but just the fluttering that comes with butterflies. It’s the same feeling most kids have on the first day of school, usually along with their parents.

So, how do we get rid of the butterflies? We can’t. However, we can tame them.

  1. Acknowledging that nerves are going to happen is the first step. Don’t get aggravated with your child, but instead try to convince them that it’s just part of being a kid and experiencing things for the first time. The first day of school has come and gone, and my guess is that the butterflies your kid felt that morning are gone too. Remind them of this as you get set to head to the game.
  2. Forcing your child to eat a nutritious breakfast when it’s the last thing they want to do will stress them out, so avoid forcing this morning agenda. Maybe you can just get your child to drink a glass of juice, which will at least get something in their stomach. If this doesn’t work, let them choose what to eat. A fruit bar on a queasy stomach sounds better than scrambled eggs and sausage.
  3. Remind your child that their teammates are counting on them and that they’re probably nervous too. You might even suggest calling a friend just for reassurance that everyone is nervous, but they’ll get through it together.


Game day is stressful enough without all the butterflies, but they’re unfortunately inevitable. However, like anything in life, if you expect the nerves and plan how to face them then it’ll be a smoother process getting past them.

Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.