Striving for perfection is noble, but expecting perfection is foolish.
Softball Smarts Tips #129:

How Expectations Propel or Destroy Performance

In today's sports crazed culture it's hard for any athlete, particularly a young one, to escape the inevitable performance expectations placed upon them by parents, coaches, peers and self.

A certain level of elevated self-expectations for game day success is a positive thing for most athletes as this can illustrate dedication, positive self-image, high self-confidence, achievement oriented, and a deep desire to succeed. A healthy level of expectations can propel game day performance in both results and fulfillment.

However, beyond a certain tipping point excessive expectations (from self or others) can be detrimental to an athlete and quickly destroy her game day performance and joy for playing the game.  Athletes that are "perfectionists" can never be satisfied with their performance, and are quick to judge harshly their results because they have very rigid and acceptable parameters for what they deem to be a "success." 

Obsession with perfection on the field will lead to perpetual frustration and serious game day anxiety. For the perfectionist her fear of failure (or results less than she expects) can cause her to hold back or hesitate on the field -- only leading to more brutal self-judgment and "perceived" failure.

Although the following tips pertain to "self-expectations" excessive expectations from parents or coaches can also lead to game day anxiety and diminished performance. Be very careful of the performance expectations you have (and her perceptions of) for your athlete. be realistic and avoid judgments based solely on results. Celebrate her effort and the learning process she is going through on the field!

Here are 10 tips for your athlete to manage her game day expectations:

1.  To strive for perfection is noble, to expect perfection is foolish.

2.  Trying too hard to succeed can cause unnecessary stress and tension; both killers to a softball player.

3.  Rather than be obsessed with your results, stay in the present moment and focus on the task at hand.

4.  Try to engage in "game thinking" instead of "practice thinking" on game day. In "game thinking" the athlete reacts to game situations and trusts in her ability.  In "practice thinking" the athlete is constantly engaged in analyzing  her performance, trying to think her way to success.

5.  Accept the fact that you will make mistakes in this game.

6.  After a result that is below your expectations be careful of excessive self-judgment; let the punishment fit the crime!

7.  It's a hard game...celebrate each of your game day successes, no matter how small you perceive them to be! Celebrate your effort.

Frame setbacks as opportunities to learn, grow and get better. Without knowing how “not” to perform a task you may never fully know how “to” perform that task.

9.  When evaluating your game day performance don't compare yourself to any teammate or opposing player. Evaluate yourself on what YOU are capable of achieving and work towards that goal.

Learn to be flexible with your expectations in the face of factors beyond your control.

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Game Day Domination 1.0 (14 day) 
Game Day Domination 2.0 (28 day)

Powerful Player Focused Online Courses Designed to Skyrocket Fastpitch Performance.
Look for a Special Sneak Preview in the Next Edition of Softball Smarts Tips!

Remember, thoughts are choose them wisely!

Thanks for reading,

John Kelly
Softball Smarts
Winner's Edge Softball
Copyright © 2012 John Michael Kelly Sports, All rights reserved.

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