Mental Edge: Fear is an athlete's worst enemy

Photo: Logan Newman/USA TODAY High School Sports)

Mental Edge: Fear is an athlete's worst enemy

High School Sports

Mental Edge: Fear is an athlete's worst enemy


Fear of losing, fear of failure, fear of being criticized, making mistakes, getting injured, or losing paralyzes athletes .

What do you do to overcome theses fears? Instructions, such as “Don’t be afraid” or “relax,” are too simplistic and doesn’t help most athletes.

When you are tight or afraid to make mistakes, for example, you can’t just let it happen and get into the flow of the game. You judge your game and think too much about outcomes. So how you or your athletes cope with fear, if at all?

Your primary goal is to trust your athletic ability when you perform. Most result-oriented thinking by athletes leads to performance anxiety and playing scared. A present-moment focus helps you react and get into the flow. Not thinking ahead and reacting during competition are the simple ways to let go of the fear.

What’s the opposite of reacting? Over thinking, over analyzing, and over controlling your skills.

How to overcome Fear:

“Just relax, don’t stress” really is not the answer for fear or anxiety.

So, how do you relax?

1- Know what makes you anxious during a game. What thoughts make you tense? Are you afraid of making mistakes and disappointing teammates, coaches for example?

2- Stop projecting what will happen if you make mistake or fail to win — this is the source of your anxiety.

3- Keep your thinking and performance simple. Focus on what you have to do one play, routine or run at a time!

4- Focus on performing freely and trusting your skills from practice. React instead of second-guessing yourself!


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