Psychiatry & Psychology--General/sports psychology


I coach my 10 year old daughter's soccer team. My daughter has good skills and athletic ability. She excels at defense. However, when she plays offense, she has a mental block.

If she controls the ball in open field, with an opportunity to attack the goal, she will purposely slow down to allow the defender to catch her, or she will slow down and pass the ball, even if she has open space ahead.

She acknowledges the problem, but cannot explain why. It appears anxiety related to me.

She is a bit of a perfectionist, and can become frustrated if she does not get school work or other things just right. I suspect she is afraid of making a mistake when shooting or drawing attention to herself. My wife and I have intentionally not put pressure on her because of this. But I'd like to help her get over this hump. Ideas?

I don't see why she'd be anxious or frustrated over making an error in offense but not in defense. And defensive moves can be almost as conspicuous as offensive ones, more so if it's the goalie. But if your guess is right, you (or maybe better her mom) could accidentally let her see mistakes being made -- and trivialized.

Maybe the issue is that she doesn't want to be seen as a bully when daddy is the coach, so perhaps you could find out how she plays for a different coach. Or perhaps she sees her offensive style as cooperative and team-oriented.

Meanwhile, can she not be invited to leave the offense to others because she's such an ace defensive player? Or put in goal?

With thanks for asking us,

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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