I have often stated to my student trainers that whenever you are in doubt about working with someone (and not sure where to go or what to do) you can always ask yourself or the other person:
“Where is the fear in this?”

In my experience of working with thousands of people, the #1 source of interference in my foundational formula:

Performance = Potential – Interference

Is Fear

Over the years, I’ve boiled down to 2 simple steps that I take my clients through when we are working on clearing fears:

  1. Make the unknown, known.
  2. Go to the worst case scenario and continue the story until you’re OK.

To illustrate,

I can remember a night from my early childhood where I woke up crying and calling for my dad because I was afraid of the dark.

My dad comes into my room and the first thing he does is turn on the light.

I instantly feel better.

He then asks “What’s wrong son?”

And I whine and whimper something like: “I’m scared in the dark….there’s monsters in the closet and under the bed and robbers might fly in through the window and get me….sniff, sniff”

So, dad gets me out of bed and brings me to the closet and shines a flashlight in there and he moves everything around so we can SEE the whole closet and that there is no trap door for monsters to come out of.

He turns on and off the light teaching me that the closet is the same with the lights on or off.

We then get on our stomachs and look under the bed with the flashlight and see that the only thing under there is a sock and an old kleenex. He even moves the bed away from the wall so can get a closer look. Again, no trap doors and we do the on/off with the room light again.

“….but, but the robbers that can come through the window” I still protest to uphold my justification to be scared.

Dad informs me that no human being can fly and the only way anyone could get in that window is if they had a huge ladder (I was on the 2nd floor) and EVEN IF that were to happen, our alarm system would go off and dad would be able to stop the intruder.

He then pats me on the head and tucks me back into bed and I am able to go back to sleep in the dark. A couple more nights where I wake up in the dark scared and I talk myself back to sleep with what dad taught me and I’m no longer afraid of the dark!

Look what happened here. As a little kid, whenever it was dark, there was a lot of “Unknown” things to me.

Dad made all of the unknown things in the dark KNOWN by showing me the closet and bed in the light and explaining that things are the same in the dark as they are in the light and nothing changes if you turn out the light.

That’s step 1.

Then, we mentally visited the worst case scenario about a robber possibly getting a ladder to try to get into my bedroom. We finished the story with “EVEN IF that happened, I would still be O.K.”

Here is the basic pattern to overcoming all fears:

1. Make the unknown, known.

2. Go to the worst case scenario and continue the story until you’re OK.

Now, if you are a young kid this is probably all you have to do. But, if you are older, you have to actually take one more step and that is: to get the new perspective from “head knowledge” into your cellular intelligence that governs your nervous system (otherwise known as the subconscious mind.)

I’ll tell you more about that 3rd step in future articles but let’s take this over to sports.

The #1 issue I help athletes of all ages is “Fear of failure.”

The reason why some athletes and performers have more fear of this than others is, in part, because they are more sensitive.

Their emotions are stronger, and/or they have thinking that basically says that “failure” (which doesn’t really exist), is totally unacceptable and therefore they are going to fear it.

So, one of my trainers told me about how he used this method with a high school baseball player.

The player desperately wanted to get into a good college program playing baseball and anything else was “unacceptable.”

He related everything that was going on with him in baseball to whether or not he was closer or further to getting his goal.

With athletes of all ages in this situation, as long as they are doing well – everything is OK.

But, of course, nobody always plays well all of the time. My trainer took his young player mentally down the path to what if he DIDN”T get his goal of becoming a college player.At first, the player shuddered and bristled at the idea (and that is why he had this problem).

His trainer then had him look at all the details of the possibility (Make the unknown known) about not making it on a college team… just like my dad did with me when I was afraid of the dark.Then, he worked him through step 2 by FINISHING the story until the player was going to O.K. EVEN IF the worst case scenario were to occur.

The truth about these worst case scenarios is that it happens to athletes all the time when they get injured and their career is over so it’s always a possibility.Now, you don’t want to go through this process with athletes who are doing fine and not struggling to perform in the game like they do in practice. Keep those athletes focused on mastering their skills which have come out of the plan to achieve the long term goal.

(That’s another article for another day).

The end of the story is that he totally relaxed about his career and, like magic, started crushing the ball at the plate just like he did in practice.

Performance = Potential – Interference

Fear is the biggest cause of interference.

I’ve just given you my process to get anyone over any fear.

Use it and tell me how it worked for you or your kid!

– Craig