It’s time for “Guest Post Friday”! On Fridays, I feature thoughts from individuals who have strong input about the mental side of fitness, training and life. All the other posts on this site are written by me, so I like to highlight other viewpoints and suggestions to keep it varied. I select witty and honest posts, that give you practical tips and advice.
This was originally found on MaxReps.com HERE.
“Many times when athletes compete, the difference between winning and losing, succeeding or not, and delivering that powerful knockout punch is the ability to control your Fear. We have all read quotes that deliver the message:
“The only thing to fear is fear itself,” and
“The most difficult enemy you will ever have to face is inside of you, not in front of you.”
These quotes are ingenious ways of understanding and really thinking about Fear.
However, a true understanding of fear can only be identified by realizing the inner components that make up fear. Knowing, learning and understanding these components will enable you to conquer the most difficult enemy in sports, fear.
Below you will find 10 principles to identify, recognize and control fear. Working on these principles will prevent FEAR from becoming a factor.
1. Lack of Attitude. So often in sports the one with the best attitude will succeed over the one with the poor attitude. Enforcing a yes! Attitude brings the positive energy of the athlete to the forefront of their competitive spirit. Instead of keeping it buried deep inside, it is important to bring it to the top. An athlete with a positive attitude will always succeed over the athlete with a poor attitude, no matter what the scoreboard says. A positive attitude is contagious on a team and will spread throughout that team as quickly as a poor attitude will. Having and maintaining a positive attitude acts as a barrier to fear. It eliminates self doubt and preserves that inner sanctum of confidence to succeed.
2. Lack of Preparation. Proper planning prevents poor performance. If you fail to practice, you will not be prepared. Good practice of fundamentals, instinct and focus will prepare you for game situations. Do not, however, practice errors. Many young athletes fail to recognize the importance of practice. They create a mind set that it’s not the “real thing” and therefore they do not have to go 100 percent. They believe when the game is played it will be done properly. Practicing with that belief will prevent your mind and body from being trained for the “show.”
An athlete cannot perform when it counts if the mind and body are not prepared mentally and physically. The same way we practice muscle memory, we should practice fundamentals, drills and execution. Game situations and the pressure of performance should be incorporated into practice so that they are prepared. I believe this is a vital component that should be used at practice. The more times an athlete feels the experience of pressure, the more relaxed the athlete becomes. Remember, you cannot control a competitor who has more talent than you. But you can control how hard you work and are prepared when you need to deliver.
3. Lack of Belief. Belief is the most important yet complex emotion to understand. Parents, teammates and coaches will believe in you, but until that transcends to personal emotion, it will not matter. Remember, the most difficult enemy you will ever have to face is inside you not in front of you.
a) You have to believe in your team.
b) You have to believe in your leaders, coaches, and trainers.
c) You have to believe in yourself.
d) You have to believe it in your heart, not just in your head and show and display
your passion for that belief.
A. Belief Goes to passion. Do not confuse belief with an inappropriate self-proclaimed over confidence that emits a “cocky attitude.” Your belief is an inner confidence that is displayed with a controlled and humble confidence. Your belief in your ability, that of the team and coaching staff, melds into a passion. That passion will create a burning desire and flame that cannot be touched by the outside world. It is that Passion that will drive the competitive spirit of a Champion.
4. Lack of Skill. This follows that Belief formula. You must believe you have the skills necessary to compete, develop and succeed. You must believe you deserve to be there. Proper preparation will transcend and bolster this belief. You must improve those skills with defined formulas, tasks and goal setting. This factor goes to practice and the physical aspect of performance.
In order to improve your skill, it is necessary for you to practice, develop, want to be better and perform. The more you practice the better your skills become. When you see that, the belief factor takes over and turns into a controlled confidence.
5. Lack of Self-Confidence. This goes hand in hand with Preparation. Most athletes feel a sense of nerves creeping upon them when in reality it is that they’re just unprepared. Nerves are an important and necessary component of pre-game warm-up.
Controlling those nerves through breathing techniques transcends them into self-confidence and positive Belief. Allowing those nerves to control you will create Fear and cause the athlete to lack confidence and Belief. You can control your preparation through physical practice but a better self awareness and mental training approach is necessary here. This will increase your self-confidence and maintain your nervous reflexes. Duplicating game situations through practice and visualization techniques and succeeding will create confidence in the athlete when a game is on the line.
6. Lack of Resilience. This is a key element in the failure paradigm. Resilience is your inner strength to react to what happens to you, your outer strength and mental strength to respond to what happens to you, and all your strength to recover from what happens to you. Building resilience will completely wipe away Fear. Wins and Losses must not be dwelled on. You must recognize mistakes, not repeat them and learn how not to make them again. It is never the initial mistake or error that costs the team but usually the next one when self doubt permeates the mind. Unless you can control the forces of the universe or time, after the mistake occurs, you must bury it and not feed it oxygen.
A. Resilience is that ability to recover from an error, mistake, mishap, loss or embarrassing situation. It is not about being knocked down. We will all be knocked down in life. The most important component is getting back up. Will you rise to the challenge or be defeated because of the miscue? Most athletes fail twice as much as they succeed. It is our failures and mistakes that make us great. We must fall to rise and in doing so learn how to stay on top.
7. Lack of Personal Pride in Yourself. This comes from not practicing, missing practice, having a poor attitude, not enjoying the game and consistent failure to correct mistakes and adjust. This is about the time where you have your favorite accolade and you will keep the prior omission to a minimum.
A. Personal pride brings a positive inner strength and spirit to your performance. Pride in your family, team, school, coaches and most important, yourself. This pride will display a mature respectful athlete on the field and bring positive energy wherever that athlete goes. Being proud of who you are, what you believe in, and what you represent will define your character and personality. Play for the Love of the Game, but not because someone else requires you to play.
8. Limiting Self-Thought. The infamous “I am not good enough,” or “I can’t.” Most self-thought comes from the negative side of your thought process of thinking what if I fail. Instead, the mind thought process should think of succeeding and look to visualize that success. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” This is one of the most crucial factors to think about. Our brain functions in a special but important way. The neurons which emit responses to the rest of the body respond to thought processes. Thought processes which convey a poor, self-defeated, “what if” attitude will emit responses to the physical aspect of the body preventing it from performing. In the same way, positive energy and victorious thought process which convey responses to the physical body that “I can do this.” Self-doubt is a product of lack of preparation and belief.
A. You have a choice. You can choose to be positive or you can choose to doubt yourself. Stop saying “I can’t.” You can. You just choose not to. Instead, always make a positive choice and move in the right direction always going forward toward your goal. You are what you think. Our actions and behavior are a product of our thoughts. Control your mind and your thoughts and you will control your actions. The leads to success.
9. Low Self-Esteem. Someone else told you that you were not good enough and you (like a fool) believed them. Allow negative energy from outside sources to permeate your mind and low self-esteem will be the product. Remove, eliminate and disassociate all negative outside sources. Only maintain communication with positive outside sources.
This should be done in sports and life. If there is a core group on the team that complain, whine or make excuses, disassociate with them or persuade them to have positive thoughts. Allowing yourself to embrace poor negative energy will destroy all the hard work and preparation of being a Champion.
10. Inability to Visualize. This is probably the most important to capture the full body of all the traits identified above. Competition allows you to incorporate your practice, skills and yearning desire to succeed. Do not be robotic or mechanical. Rather, see yourself and create a vivid picture of success. Your inability to visualize success will prevent you from being in the success video. Eliminate the barriers and negativity and through positive passionate feelings and influences create a vision of success.
A. If you cannot visualize yourself delivering the powerful blow, then trust me, it will not happen. If you cannot see it vividly in your mind, then you cannot imagine success and will not taste victory.
Close your eyes and see it happen. When you open up your mind, spirit, and eyes, you should then perform to the picture and vision you created.
In conclusion, don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses. Just play the game!”
About The Author: Joseph S. Maniscalco is the founder of the BlueFire Fastpitch travel program and coaches the team (www.blurefiresoftball.com). He also conducts mental training seminars and is a former Division I college baseball player and All-American. Joseph has been an NFCA member since 2006.
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