Emotional States and Softball...The Key to the Castle!
It is an exciting time to be a mental performance coach! A great college football bowl season just ended with a thrilling BCS championship game between Florida State and Auburn; the NFL playoffs with the endless story lines of great finishes and epic chokes; and, of course, the Winter Olympics right around the corner with the inevitable feel good stories of athletes overcoming great odds and great adversities to win gold!
I also get excited each January because I see in young athletes the endless horizon to improve their game and move ever closer to their athletic and academic goals.
This first 2014 edition of Softball Smarts Tips is focusing on emotional states and how they supremely dictate performance. This topic will be the basis for a exciting new book, audio program and workshop.
For any young athlete her emotional state is something thought to be a spontaneous condition. Not a single athlete I work with from coast-to-coast has ever offered me a good explanation of why they feel the way they feel during a game and particularly after adversity hits.
No coach or parent has been able to understand or explain it to me as well.
And yet it is this elusive and powerful emotional state that will determine both your athlete's game day results and joy for playing the game...GUARANTEED!
As humans we are, by definition, emotional creatures. Yet, more often than not, we end up being victims of our emotions. For a younger athlete this is multiplied several fold!
And in a game like fastpitch, where adversity is the rule rather than the exception, how any athlete handles this adversity absolutely determines their success, mediocrity or failure on the diamond.
Here are three major "trigger" factors that can accelerate emotional sabotage:
Now these three "trigger" factors may seem easy to understand but each has both underlying causes and effects (that largely go un-noticed by athlete, parent and coach) which severely impact confidence, focus, energy and poise.
- Elevated expectations for performance by parents, coaches or athlete.
- Perpetual judgment and analysis of one's performance; creating doubt.
- Focusing too much on future or past performance, losing the moment.
Many teen athletes I coach that are quick to judge their game performance engage in "catastrophe thinking" in which they almost expect the sky will fall.
Others engage in "perfectionist" thinking, so no matter how well they play it is never good enough for them.
Still others worry so much about disappointing parents or teammates (or failing in front of college coaches scouting them) that anxiety grips their minds and bodies to the point of making contact with the ball or the simplest of throws impossible.
The common denominator to all these is emotion.
The good news is your athlete has the power to understand and control her emotional state (particularly in response to adversity) in great measure with the proper education and mental tools and build a mindset that will allow her to consistently perform her best no matter what.
Stay tuned as I will delve into and dissect the emotional state challenge athletes face in future emails, articles and videos in the weeks to come.
Be sure to check out the preview of my upcoming book, "College Softball Scholarships: An A to Z Guide."
Thanks for reading!
John Michael Kelly
John Michael Kelly Sports
Winner's Edge Kids