Fear is a useful feeling that is still used to protect you from harm. Fear can also be debilitating and cause a change in lifestyle or behaviour as a result. Athletes need to learn how to overcome fear in order to master their emotions and excel as an athlete.
Fear is learned response and is a combination of emotion, thought, and physical response. They work together to help prepare the body to react. Adrenaline will be created quite quickly, the heart rate will increase and you will feel a burst of energy and which will increase strength and decrease reaction time from being more mentally alert. A small amount of fear will not cause a huge effect but a paralyzing fear can create poor judgement, create nausea and illness and drastically decrease performance.
In athletes, fear is very common before big games, attending tryouts or trying something new. It is the negative aspect of the challenge that creates the fear. To overcome fear, try these techniques:
Admit it – recognizing that it exists so you can deal with it.
Prepare – preparing really well will put confidence in your mind in your ability and performance and fear will not be able to creep into your thoughts as you know what you are capable of.
Keep Busy – some athletes need to be alone before a big game but doing so can lead to a lot of negative thoughts being generated and fueled by self doubt. Keeping busy with friends and teammates is a good way to relax and minimize the fear.
Think Positive – visualization can be very motivating for athletes. Think of positive images of a successful outcome. See the shot in your mind and make it before actually taking the shot. Practice this technique in training so you can become good at it during games.
Trust Experience – When in a new situation like your first National Championship, listen to those who have been there before like your coach, older players or siblings. Understand how they felt and what they did to cope to help you manage it as well.
Parents – they have been where you are now and likely know you better than anyone else in your life. They do actually know a thing or two that can help.
Fear is not always a negative feeling. Knowing how to deal with and overcome fear can make you a better player who enjoys it as a motivator. It can even be your friend as you can instill fear in others by playing “mind games.” BUT, players who dwell on their fears can perform badly and make it ultimately worse on themselves. Athletes need to learn to control their emotions and remain focused on playing and not be distracted by fear.
My name is Jacques Delorme and I am the founder of ViSports. I run three websites designed to help educate visitors about youth nutrition, training and motivation. The primary site is a blog at http://visportsnutrition.ca. Visiting this site will lead you to the other two sites as a hyper link at the top of the web page. We produce a newsletter which you can subscribe to to receive a number of free articles and books including this article. Feel free to leave comments and questions if you need more information on a related topic you can not find.
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