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Mental Health in Training Young Athletes

Sally Perkins explains the importance of mental health in training young athletes.

Out of 1.5 million youth football participants in England, only 180 (or 0.012%) will have a career playing the sport professionally. Yet, thousands of parents around the globe train their children in rigorous physical exercise in the hopes that they will defy the odds.

Usually, the child follows a strict diet and fitness routine, because as well all know, a healthy body is the first step to achieving athletic success. But an often-overlooked factor is the child's mental health.

Feeling the pressure to perform in sports at such a young age can cause a child to be stressed, uninterested, and in some cases, deprives them of a childhood. Avoiding these mental issues is a major hurdle that all athletically gifted young athletes must navigate to ensure future success.

Start Them Young

Having a newborn baby or young child is an extremely exciting and hectic time as a parent. There is so much to do and consider to ensure that they start their young lives off well by providing the necessities, to making sure they are comfortable and primed for happiness.

When planning for your baby to have an athletic life, using the right foods and physical exercise are vital, but so is knowing how to evaluate their mental health. Treating this with the same importance as a physical condition will give your child a head start on having the mental preparedness to handle the stress and pressure that comes with being a world-class athlete.  

Techniques that Train the Mind

The approach to mental health training can often conflict with physical training, which usually leaves parents and coaches unsure if they are pushing their athletes too hard, or not enough. However, the general rule, when judging child-athletes mental health is to talk to them. If they are happy, and having fun playing the sport, then continue with their routines.

It is important not to push the child into doing something they hate, and prioritising their happiness will go a long way in the likely event that your child goes pro in something other than sports. But, if the child does show signs of a mental health issue, it is important to remove the unfortunate stigma that comes with it. Treating a mental issue the same as a physical one can go a long way to make sure your child is happy and healthy for the long-term.

While there is nothing wrong with training a child to become a world-class athlete, it is important to keep in mind how important their mental health is. All parents want what is best for their child, and it is impossible to achieve difficult goals without a clear mind. Making the mental health of young athletes a top priority will set them up for success in anything they do in life, whether that is playing in the World Cup, or working a more traditional career.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • PERKINS, S. (2018) Mental Health in Training Young Athletes [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Sally Perkins is a freelance writer.