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You See Him Hesitating: Here’s Why & One Way to Fix It!

It’s frustrating isn’t it?

You see that nice, trained, pretty swing or pitching form in practice during the week and then come time the weekend tournament... see your kid hesitating, doubting, and just not looking like they have the tenacity they should have in that moment.

Here is what it’s important to know and it’s a principle that will help you embrace lots of nuances to your child’s poor performance as well as provide you with ideas on how to help them.

Some of the greatest anxiety that people deal with is the result of dealing with uncertainty. It can be more stressful to be uncertain about an outcome than to be certain about a negative outcome.

In their New York Times Bestseller “Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most”, Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry reference a fascinating study about the effect of stomach ulcers.

During World War 2 central London experienced more bombing raids than smaller suburbs of the city. It was recorded that the pattern of stomach ulcers showed a greater occurrence in people who lived in the smaller suburbs than were in the bigger city with daily and nightly bombardment. And ulcers forming because of stress, one would’ve picked the heavy daily dose of bombing to negatively impact the city residents of central London.

What they realized was that magnitude of the bombing doesn’t contribute to high cortisol levels of stress as much as sporadic bombing. In other words, when people live in a context of high uncertainty their body’s response to stress is much greater, which helped explain the increase stress from suburban residents which correlated to higher ulcer rates.

What in the world does this have to do with your ball player?

Your athlete is constantly trying to deal with LOTS of uncertainty. He’s nervous because he can’t guarantee that even if he does everything right, it’s going to result into a hit.

She’s worried that she might let her team down. Even if you tell her she’ll do great, there’s no guarantee your advice holds any water.

So one reason that your child responds with hesitation is that it’s a response to the stress of uncertainty. They disengage or reduce their level of commitment to perform in that moment because they do not know how to control an outcome that is very much uncontrollable. And if their sense of confidence is tied to the outcome, this creates a high-pressure situation and the hesitation is the result or response to them coping with it.

So, here’s one strategy you can start doing:

Get them from thinking Outcome Oriented to Task/Process Oriented

Ask and engage your athlete what they are trying to do when they are hitting. Chances are they’ll say they are trying to get a hit.

That’s great except that it’s not actually helpful. Focusing on getting a hit doesn’t produce the hit but it’s what they’re looking to for confirmation that they are good enough.

I get it, as I’ve been there as a player. But there’s a better way!

They need to focus on a task or process that is part of what they need to do to put their best swing on the ball.

Do this by asking this question:

What do you think is the most important task you need to execute in order to put your best swing on the ball?”

Help them discover what they need to do to put a good swing on the ball. This is COMPLETELY in their control and when they approach each pitch with this focus, you’ll start seeing a different demeanor because you’ve just empowered them with a process that they can manage, monitor, learn from, and improve on.

They shy away from outcomes that prove to be uncertain but lean in and embrace opportunities to do something within their power to execute.

So now the key is to help them discover what aspect of their process they can focus on, make that part of their mental strategy and routine, and engage them on how they feel they did on executing it.

You can help your child go from stressing out about what’s uncertain about their performance to something they can be certain about: their plan and their process.

If this resonated with you and you want to work through some of the nuances of how to apply it to your athlete, let’s talk about it!

Yes, I want to talk to you about it!

My 90% Grand Slam Mental Strategy is closed and I won’t be opening it back up until next year so the ONLY thing we will discuss is giving you clarity on what you should do to help your athlete with their mindset to maximize performance.

That’s it… clarity and a strategy you can implement TODAY.

Book your call with me to discuss this or even to let me know how you’re doing with it, and if I can provide further insight and refine your strategy, let’s make it happen!

Book your call HERE.

I look forward to it!

You and Your Athlete’s Success,

Steve Young

Baseball Mentor

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