mindset bite #014 - overcoming performance anxiety as a young athlete...

It's a story that's all too familiar in young athlete's, and sadly, it's a story that should never exist...

How often have you heard this scenario: "I just couldn't sleep last night. I was up worrying about this week/today's game..."

It happened to me at Baseball Nationals in 2005... the night before the game the coach would always put the lineup for the next day up, and sure enough, catching and batting #5 - Nick Maier

My heart sunk. I began to immediately sweat. And I began to feel anxious, picture everything that could go wrong, and ask myself "am I really good enough for this"

That night, I didn't sleep... The next morning, I didn't eat... On the ride to the stadium, I didn't speak to anyone...

And to say I had an alright game is a fair assumption - nothing special, I was too in my own head

Young athletes of all kinds experience performance anxiety...

Anxiety about their performance...
Anxiety about meeting their parents & coaches expectations...
Anxiety about if they're truly good enough, or if there self-limiting and disempowering beliefs are true...
Anxiety that prevents them from getting good nutrition AND good nights sleep in the build-up to it

And as such, this is the kind of anxiety that will decrease their performance come game day - something we want to minimise as much as possible

The good news is though, it's quite easy to control and minimise once we're aware of it if we place the correct strategies in place. This is something that we can control with a simple shift in perspective on everything

At the end of the day, it comes down to focus on only that which we can control... our own performance and what we accomplish

We can't control how our coaches view our performance or how they respond... we can't control our parent's point of view either... we can't sway the coaches decision to select us in the squad, no matter how hard we wish, it's an impossible feat (under proper ethics)

What we can do though, is prepare our best, and focus on giving a performance that's our absolute best at that very point in time - trying to be so good that they can't ignore us

That's all we can control, so that's all we focus on doing - then, it's all left up to others - your job is done...  so focus on that

Stressing and worrying in the lead up does nothing but zap us of our energy. We defeat ourselves before we've even played a single second

Focus on playing your game. Focusing on doing the 1%er's that you, or a player of your position, needs to do. Focus on placing yourself in great positions, taking your chances, and adapting when you do make an error

That's what you can control - and that's what you should focus on

Don Miguel Ruiz has four agreements in life, one of which is "do your best" - whatever that is at this given moment in time. You might only have 75% to give, so give all of that 75% and move on

Focus on doing the things you need to do, and focus on doing them to the best of your ability, and let everything else fall as it may. Just because a coach doesn't select you doesn't mean you're not good enough, that's just their viewpoint and perception - it's not a representation of you or the player you are - know that

Actionable Tips/Questions:

  • "Do I get anxious in the lead up to games? If so, why? Where is this anxiety coming from and how can I shift my perspective to minimise it?"
  • Always focus on giving your best, whatever that is at that given moment in time


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In Less than 5 Minutes... Discover the Mindset Principles your Child Needs to Guarantee Themselves Future Sport & Life Success...

Nick Maier