Overcoming Fear in Young Athletes

Learn how to help young athletes overcome their fear with from STACK expert Todd Stofka.

Disappointed Player - STACK

It's back-to-school time around the world, and young student-athletes are getting anxious, nervous and possibly making themselves sick. Why does this happen? Often it's because of something they fear, such as:

  • Their talent and performance will fall short
  • They aren't the biggest or best player on the team
  • They will be ridiculed by older, more talented players
  • They will fail to make the team
  • They won't fit in

A lot of times these fears are just a state of mind. To determine this, we ask, "Is that really true?" Children (and adults) often use their imaginations to envision something bad or miserable happening. If you think you will be nervous, you will subconsciously become nervous. On other hand, if you envision success, you will be more likely to succeed. This is called "desired results thinking."

It's essential for young athletes hampered by fear to change their mindset. Envision making the team, performing well, being accepted by your teammates and being appreciated by your coach. Such desired results thinking builds confidence, excitement and positive outcomes.

The best way to change a young athlete's mindset is to play the "What if" game.

  • I don't like the team. What if you did like the team. Tell me about it? What do you think you would like best?
  • I'm afraid of the other players because they're bigger and better. What if only one or two were bigger and better? What if a few made you feel  comfortable? How would you know? How would you behave around them?
  • I get anxious, upset or nervous when I'm asked to show what I can do. What if you were calm? How would that look and feel? Tell me how you would walk into practice.
  • I don't like the coach. What if the coach liked you? How would you act if you knew he or she liked you?
  • I forget things. What if you prepared before you went to sleep? How much more comfortable would you be when you woke up knowing you have everything you needed?
  • I can't remember all the things I'm supposed to do. What if you could clearly see the words on the page or hear the voice of the coach? How easy would it be for the words and voice to flow into your mind and for you to act on them?
  • I can't fall asleep because our first game is tomorrow. What if you were able to put your head on the pillow and sleep? What book, music or story made you calm in the past?
  • I'm afraid of being cut from the team. What if you just relaxed and had fun? How fun and easy could you make it? Imagine that right now.
  • I don't know anyone on this team. What if some of your teammates were also in your classes? How would you feel if you could see them and talk to them outside of practice?

When student-athletes find themselves in such situations, it is to their advantage to seek out a qualified learning performance specialist so that the fear surrounding their sports performance can be banished from their future. At Philly Hypnosis Academic Performance, we help young and old learners win the mental game. With the Stofka Method, we help them view being part of a team as easy and fun; turn their anxiety and stress into focus; and reprogram their personal organic computers and their unconscious minds to expect success.

Photo: Patrickdove.blogspot.com

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