How to Fight Worry and Anxiety as a Sports Parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/17/2020

Parental worry and anxiety are normal however, being a sports parent can increase those feelings

The worry list for sports parents is long: playing time, bullying, conflicts with coaches or teammates, game time performance and injuries. 

It’s a parental instinct to want to protect our children. One way we make ourselves feel better is to think about those things happening, and then proceed to worry about them. Worrying makes us feel like we have some semblance of power, when in fact, we have very little control at all.

If you’d like to cut back on your worry as a sports parent, here are some suggestions:

Name Your Anxiety. Pretending you’re not anxious is not going to dissolve your worry. The best place to start is by naming exactly what makes you afraid and write it down. 

Distinguish Between Fear and Fact. Once you’ve named it, decide if it’s based on fact or fear. Parents of athletes—like any other parent—may often fall into the trap of parenting out of fear and not out of fact. The best way to know the difference is by being honest about the evidence that supports your fear.

It’s easy for parents to not see things realistically or clearly because our vision is clouded by love for our kids. If you struggle being objective yourself, talk it out with someone you trust.

Manage Your Expectations. Reduce anxiety by managing your expectations for both you and your children. One way to start doing that is to stop the use of “should” on yourself or your kids. “Should” builds expectations and the more expectations you have, the more worry and anxiety you will have. Take a few minutes when starting a new season or school or team, to write down your expectations and then ask yourself: Is this reasonable? Or am I burdening myself or my child? 

Recognize What You Can and Cannot Control. You cannot control the coach, the officials, other players, your child’s playing time, or how well your child plays. But you CAN control your responses to negative situations. You CAN control if or how you talk to the coach. You CAN control how you support your child by focusing on what’s really important.

Learn to Take Control of Your Thoughts. This requires some self-discipline and a mindset adjustment. It means you will have to train yourself to focus on the positive instead of the negative. That takes practice and persistence. It’s taken me years to learn and while I’ve dramatically improved, I still find it easy to step back into the “Negative Nancy” zone.

Worry and anxiety can take away the fun that comes with watching your kids play sports. It can rob you of sleep and distract you from being present in each day. Before you realize it, your kids will be grown, and you will wonder where the time went. Hope-fully, it was not swallowed up by worry.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at