Handling the Nerves

The best questions come from parents. This week we were asked how to help her overcome nerves.

Have her practice over and over in exactly the same way until her body knows no other way to do it. She needs to be able to do it in her sleep. We use the military example of special forces. When under fire, they have no time to think, only to react and trust the training. If they have to stop and think how to reload, they are in trouble. Police and firefighters train in that way as well.

Do not take this too far. We are not training her for life and death situations and we do not want you drilling her like a Navy Seal. But, far too often we see kids thrown into new pitches or faced with someone demanding that she “hit her spot” when she is still very inconsistent in her form. We define efficiency as “doing the same thing in exactly the same way every time, as long as those movements are proven to be the best in the world”. If she throws three pitches, with one of them having a back foot dragging on the side, one has a big bend at the waist, and another has her body in a twist, there is no consistency of movement, therefore no consistency in results.

Sometimes we see a kid with one of these barriers but it is replicated every single time. She will be consistent, but is she as good as she can be? It can eventually lead to injury as she forces herself through the pitch with unnatural stresses on the body. So, we look at consistency AND efficiency.

Back to the training. Just as the examples we used above, train the simple things until they can be replicated every time and she gains confidence in them. Stay within her proficiency during game experiences. In other words, call pitches in which she has total confidence until she is ready for the next challenge. Do not try to rush her to higher competition until ready. Slowly add other proficiencies, but continue to reinforce those competencies that she already owns. This is not the only answer. Sometimes kids have learning challenges or traumatic issues in their background which require some professional help, so keep that in mind.

Bottom line: Practice one way until she knows no other way of doing it. And, then, make sure nobody is instilling doubt, nagging, yelling from the sidelines and making her fear failure more than she values success.