Welcome to the Mental Toughness Academy! I’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for youth athletes. All athletes have a fear of failure in their sport. It is probably the #1 issue I deal with in my office.
Helping athletes overcoming fear in their sport is very difficult for some coaches and parents, because they find that sometimes what worked for them does not work for the athlete. In this video, I will give you some techniques I use so you can learn hopefully so new ways to help your athletes get past the fear of failure.
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of wrestlers right before a big tournament to really sink in the message how to get over sports fears.
Overcoming Fear of Failure In Sports
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I shared with this group of wrestlers some of my mental toughness tips right before they competed in their tournament. They won as a team by one point.
What is performance anxiety? Well, to cut to the chase it’s this: fear. This is the number one problem in all sports. Fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of disappointing your parents, fear of disappointing your coaches, your teammates. Fear — right? Fear of not doing so well.
Alright, so here’s how I help people get over fear. First of all, we’re going to break it down. We do fear for two reasons. For physical danger and because we are afraid of our emotions. Now, this is something that you don’t hear too often.
What are we really afraid of about losing when we under perform in a match? We’re afraid of embarrassment, we are disappointments, what else? What else are we afraid of that might happen? Some people are afraid of getting angry. Some people are afraid of the sadness that might come from it.
But I always ask my athletes, “So if you lose, what’s going to happen? Is someone going to shoot you if you lose this game?” No. No physical danger there. “Is somebody going to take your house away and your food and your clothing and shelter?” No. “Is there anything physical?”
No. So what is it that we are afraid of? Well, all emotions including fear, they’re just chemicals running through your body. Let me give you the breakdown of what happens.
You’re going against a guy who crushed you the last time you went. Or you know he is the best around and has an undefeated record. And you’re starting to get tense and you’re starting to get nervous. What’s going on?
Chemicals just got released in your body and then they attach to cells, fibers, tissues, even muscles, even bones. And they make your body feel something. So there’s an emotion — fear. And then there’s a feeling. It is the feeling that hurts your performance. Going out there on fire feeling like you’re going to kill this guy or scared to death. It’s not even close — right?
So that’s our whole goal to is to get into that state. All you have to do is tell yourself, “Huh! Look at that! I’ve got some chemicals doing some things in my body. There’s nothing to worry about outside of my body.
We as athletes, we as human beings, tend to blow this fear thing up and feel like our whole life has come apart here. We just need to remember that literally, they’re just chemicals. That’s all that’s going on. There’s no outside force punishing you. Feeling of fear and by the way goes for all your feelings: anger, sadness, guilt, hurt, shame, embarrassment, rejection – They’re just chemicals.
Let me tell you a quick story. You guys might experience this. A few years ago I was in the dating world and I asked this woman out for a date. We had a good time. Afterwards I write her an email, “Hey! I enjoyed our date and I’d like to get to know you better.” The next morning there’s an email saying, “You know I enjoyed the time too, but I’m not interested in you romantically. I just want to be your friend.”
Now, at first, I’m feeling rejection. So this pertains to wrestling, because you guys are all in some way have going to experience rejection or the fear of losing. So what do I do?
I actually feel like this hole in my gut. I don’t know if you guys have ever been dumped by a girl or not or anybody for that matter. It doesn’t feel very good. So the tendency is to go, “I suck. There must be something wrong with me. I must not be good enough.
No, this is what you should do! Instead say, “Look at that. There’s some chemicals making my stomach making me feel that way. That’s kind of interesting. I’m just going to be in it for a while. They are just chemicals.” The truth of the situation is she was just saying “we’re not a match.”
In any relationship, either side can say we’re not a match. That’s being truthful. It doesn’t mean I’m not good enough or I’m not good enough as a person. It doesn’t mean I’m not good looking enough. It doesn’t mean I’m not smart enough. None of that. You can use the same techniques and tools out there on the mat. Do you understand the metaphor? It’s just chemicals. That’s what I want you guys to tell yourself. This is how you get over rejection and sports fears!
If you want to learn more about overcoming sports fears go to: Youth Sports Mental Toughness to get your free guided visualization .mp3 download: “Perform Under Pressure” that your child can listen to on their ipod right before a game to get into a peak performance zone.
Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer