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SPORT ANXIETY THERAPIST IN ORANGE COUNTY

SPORT ANXIETY THERAPY

AND I’M A SPORT ANXIETY THERAPIST

Hi, I'm Ashley Hudson

You may be questioning whether or not you can continue playing with all these thoughts in your head. You once felt confident, passionate, and so sure of yourself and now, you are anxious before and during your games. You constantly worry about your coach's expectations and what people are thinking of you if you mess up. You just want to feel the joy of the game again.  


I help high achieving teen athletes who are silently struggling with anxiety. By helping teens get to the root of their anxiety, develop effective coping strategies, and implement relaxation techniques, teens feel more confident within themselves and they are able to re-establish that passion for the game. 


If you are ready to manage your anxiety and have fun playing again, schedule a complimentary consultation with me today.

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My approach to Sport Anxiety Therapy

High achieving teenagers have some level of anxiety and perfectionism. Typically, people associate anxiety negatively such as panic, spiraling thoughts, heaviness, feeling stuck or "getting choked up," and obsessing over what other's think. Actually, a balanced level of anxiety can be very motivating and drive our passion and confidence in a positive way. It's finding that balance that can be difficult.

Teens put a significant amount of pressure and expectations on themselves to succeed as athletes and students. Getting good grades, staying on top of their study habits,  being competitive and keeping their starting position, and physically being their optimal selves at practices and games is just half the load. Let's throw in trying to stay in the loop with friends, taking care of yourself emotionally, and feeling satisfied outside of sports and academics. That's a lot! 

Being a previous high school and collegiate athlete myself, I understand the difficulty in trying to juggle it all and the expectation that you aren't allowed to fall apart.  Setting the bar high and having to maintain that standard is exhausting and lonely. You work so hard to succeed and it can feel like you are banging your head against the wall going "why is this happening?" You try talking to your parents about the nervousness, panic, heaviness, dread, and negative thoughts you are struggling with and you feel they don't get it. Or you just get reminded that you might as well figure it out on your own.

My approach to sport anxiety therapy is providing that safe, understanding, and nonjudgement space where teen athletes feel comfortable and validated talking about the anxiety that is crippling and getting in the way of their sport performance.  I help teen athletes figure out the root of where their anxiety is stemming from and how it is trickling into academics and sports.  I help teens regain their confidence, increase their positive self talk, and identify more realistic expectations of themselves. Also, I educate teen athletes on the importance on taking care of yourself emotionally such as relaxation techniques, grounding strategies, and specific routines that will help with reducing the nervousness and worries before and during games.

Sport Anxiety Therapy can help teens with having more self compassion and letting go of mistakes.  Lastly, it is so important to learn how to work with your anxiety by normalizing it and finding that sweet spot where your anxiety helps motivate and drives you to improve.  As a sport anxiety therapist in Orange County, I see high achieving teens who are ready to work on their emotional health and regain their confidence. Sport anxiety therapy can offer the opportunity to increase self esteem, set boundaries, feel more successful by setting realistic expectations, and focus more on your own improvement instead of worried about what others think.

If you feel ready to feel more confident and in control of your anxiety, contact me today for a free consultation

COMMON WAYS ANXIETY AFFECTS ATHLETES AND SPORT PERFORMANCE

Anxiety can significantly impact athletes and their sports performance in various ways:

  • Physical effects: Anxiety can affect the body by increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and a heightened state of arousal. These physical symptoms can interfere with coordination, fine motor skills, and overall performance during practice and competition.

  • Focus and concentration: Anxiety can make it difficult for athletes to concentrate on the task at hand. They may become easily distracted, have racing thoughts, or experience a lack of focus, which can impair decision-making and reaction time during competition.

  • Performance anxiety: Athletes may experience an intense fear of performing poorly or being evaluated by others. This fear can lead to self-doubt, negative self-talk, and a heightened pressure to perform perfectly in front of others and coaches.

  • Impaired decision-making: Anxiety can lead to indecisiveness, overthinking, and second-guessing making it challenging for athletes and result in missed opportunities or errors.

  • Lack of risk-taking: Anxiety can make athletes fear making mistakes or taking chances that could lead to failure. This can limit their willingness to push their boundaries and hinder their potential and taking their performance to the next level.

  • Muscle tension and coordination issues: Anxiety can cause muscle tension, decreased flexibility, coordination, and fluidity of movement. This can impact an athlete's ability to perform precise and skilled movements required in their sport.

  • Disrupted sleep and recovery: Anxiety can interfere with sleep patterns; difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep. Inadequate sleep can impair recovery, hinder physical performance, and increase the risk of injuries.

  • Negative impact on motivation and enjoyment: Chronic anxiety can erode an athlete's motivation and their love of the sport. The constant pressure, fear of failure, and anxiety-related distress can diminish their overall satisfaction and passion for the game.

WHAT CAUSES SPORT ANXIETY?

Sport anxiety in athletes can stem from many different factors that evoke powerful emotions. The relentless pressure to meet performance expectations from oneself, coaches, and others can create a sense of overwhelming anxiety and a gripping fear of failure.

Athletes can feel exposed and vulnerable as they dread the harsh evaluation and judgment of coaches, teammates, opponents, and the ever-watchful eyes of the crowd. Lingering self-doubt and a lack of confidence intensify these emotions, while haunting memories of past failures or traumatic experiences in sports fuel the flames of anxiety.

The pursuit of perfection plus an athletes competitive nature of sports, amplifies the emotional burden, as athletes are tormented by an unrelenting desire to outshine their rivals.

Inadequate preparation, whether physical or mental, provokes distress and worry about not being prepared with the upcoming competition.

 By recognizing and empathizing with these thoughts and emotions, athletes can embark on a therapy journey to develop personalized strategies that reduces anxiety, foster emotional resilience and paving the way for optimal

performance.

UNDERLINING ISSUES HIGH ACHIEVING ATHLETES MIGHT HAVE

Here are some underlining issues that high achieving athletes might be dealing with and contributing to their sports anxiety:

  • Social Anxiety: Athletes with social anxiety often feel a persistent and overwhelming worry about being embarrassed, judged, or negatively evaluated by their teammates, coaches, and parents. Social Anxiety can cause athletes to refuse to go to practices, games, or interact with their teammates.

  • Generalized Anxiety: Athletes with generalized anxiety have had symptoms of anxiety in the past and now, it's getting uncontrollable and affecting their performance. 

  • Panic Disorder: Athletes who experience panic disorder face recurring and unexpected panic attacks suddenly and without any apparent trigger, leading to a sense of losing control or a fear of another attack coming on. 

  • Trauma: Athletes may experience trauma due to a result in an injury, witnessing a teammate's injury, emotional abuse and harassment from coaches and teammates, missed opportunities and constant failures, and the transition after retiring from a competitive sport.

  • Depression: The pressure to perform can contribute to symptoms of depression where athletes lose interest to compete and begins to avoid the sport all together. 

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Athletes can experience performance related obsessions and develop superstitious rituals that athletes feel are absolutely necessary for success to happen.

  • Substance Use: Some athletes struggle with substance use and addiction issues due to the pressure to perform, coping with injuries or setbacks, or attempts to enhance physical performance.

  • Medical Issues: Athletes with underlining medical issues experience performance anxiety because they feel their performance has to do with playing or practicing harder when really their under performance is linked to medical causes. 

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SPORT ANXIETY THERAPY FAQs

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FROM A SPORT ANXIETY THERAPIST

If you are ready to feel confident again, contact a sport anxiety therapist today to set up a free consultation and we can start this journey together. 

Feeling Helpless On How To Help Your Anxious Teen?

I've created a Free  simple guide on how to support your anxious teen right now! Get 14 techniques you can use today that will help reduce your teen's anxiety. Enjoy!

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