The Causes of Anxiety in Sports for Different Age Groups

young athlete playing football, potentially dealing with anxiety

For some people, participating in sports can induce anxiety no matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been playing your sport.

Anxiety manifests itself differently across various age groups, with distinct factors contributing to its development.

In this blog, we’ll break down the various causes of anxiety in sports, examining the unique challenges faced by different age categories.

Children and Adolescents

Performance Pressure

Either due to expectations set by parents, being compared to other young athletes, or even the desire to gain recognition, children and adolescents may feel immense pressure to perform. Fear of failure and disappointing others can significantly contribute to anxiety.

Social Evaluation

Young athletes might worry about being judged or laughed at by their peers, leading to self-consciousness and performance anxiety. Concerns about fitting in and maintaining social acceptance can be particularly distressing.

Lack of Experience

Inexperienced athletes may feel anxious about their abilities, especially when facing unfamiliar sports or competing against more skilled opponents. Fear of making mistakes or underperforming can hinder their confidence and generate anxiety.


Young Adults

As athletes transition into young adulthood, athletes face new challenges:

Academic and Career Pressure

Juggling sport alongside academic or professional pursuits can be demanding. Young adults may worry about balancing their commitments effectively, fearing that their athletic performance may suffer.

Competitive Environment

At higher levels of sports, competition becomes more intense. Young adults might face increased pressure to perform to a higher standard, achieve personal bests. Athletes can even become more aware of being spotted or scouted for professional contracts. The fear of not meeting expectations can contribute to anxiety.

Transition and Uncertainty

Moving from amateur to professional sports or from one level of competition to another can be a daunting process. The uncertainties surrounding future prospects and the fear of the unknown can lead to performance anxiety and self-doubt.




Even seasoned athletes can experience anxiety in sports due to various factors:

Performance Expectations

Adults often face the pressure of maintaining a certain level of performance, whether it’s on a personal level, a professional obligation, or even competing at a high level. The fear of not meeting these expectations can generate anxiety.

Physical Demands and Ageing

As the body ages, athletes may encounter physical limitations or injuries that impact their performance.

Life Balance

Adults typically have multiple responsibilities, such as work, family, and social commitments. Balancing these responsibilities with sports can create stress and anxiety, as they may feel overwhelmed by the demands of their various roles.


Learn how to Deal with Anxiety

Our ‘Dealing with Anxiety in Young Players’ Online course will help you to detect heightened levels of Anxiety in your young players along with the best ways of helping them deal with this in a positive way.

The eLearning course will focus on exploring anxiety, specifically in young players.

As part of the course, learners will develop an understanding of the ways in which we can promote positive mental health and reduce the risk of developing anxiety disorders through implementing preventative measures.

Enrol on the course if you want to:

  • Increase understanding of mental health and mental ill health
  • Improve awareness of the role of risk factors and protective factors in preventing mental ill health
  • Raise awareness in relation to anxiety and anxiety disorders
  • Increase awareness in relation to the role those working in the sporting environment can play
  • Provide information on how to access appropriate support and intervention

Watch our snippet video below to find out more info and how

ENROL: Sign up for the Anxiety course today!