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Monday, August 15, 2011
Youth Baseball - How to Handle Stress
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How To Handle Stress
By Jim Bain
The regular youth baseball season is winding down, and except for a few divisions in certain leagues, which are still being hotly contested, you know if your team is headed for the playoffs or not. If you're one of the talented, or lucky teams that are headed into Post-Season play, how well you perform very well may depend on how you handle the stress.
Briefly, and in layman's terms, stress is that anxious feeling you experience before an important event or test, such as a championship game or a college entrance exam. It's that queasy unsettled feeling in your stomach which makes you feel as though you may throw up, or not being able to stop bouncing your foot up and down.
The inability to handle stress can render an athlete totally unable to compete, literally making the player so sick, he's unable to perform. However, on the flip side of this situation, an athlete accustomed to stress and has developed the ability to control it, can channel this anxious energy into a positive thing, which allows him to explode onto the playing field with an abundance of energy and motivation.
So how do we control or learn to channel the anxious energy stress creates? Perhaps we should examine what creates stress first. In my experiences I found Fear, fear of failure, creates most types of stress. For instance, while in pre-game warm ups against a team which is clearly in the wrong division and your team has defeated four times by an accumulated score of 52 - 1, you are loose, humorous and anxious to get the game underway.
However, during the same pre-game warm ups against a known and powerful opponent, or worse yet, an unknown opponent, you are fidgety, somewhat sick to your stomach and constantly scanning the other team attempting to assess their skills.
In the first scenario, there is a calmness created by the complete belief and confidence of not only winning the game, but more importantly, you know you'll perform well. Previous encounters with this team's pitchers have resulted in nothing but your success and there's no reason to believe today will be any different.
The second scenario paints an entirely different picture. The game is very important, an elimination game from the tournament, which your team must win or go home. This added weight of winning means everything, puts nerves which are normally calm, on edge and irritable.
Fear, fear of the unknown and what it can mean directly to you, sends your nerves into a frenzy. Will I be able to hit this pitcher? Will I let a ball go between my legs? Can I steal without being thrown out? These and another hundred questions race through your mind because of your fear of failure. Of course you don't want to let the team down, but what directly happens to you, success or failure, is what spurs stress to an unhealthy level.
Let's exam one method to not only defeat stress, but turn it into an ally.
Fear of failure is created when the mind wonders if the body did everything it could to prepare for this test. For instance, if you had planned on going to the batting cages on two separate days before this game, but stayed with your girlfriend at the swimming pool instead, your mind knows this and knows you're not as prepared as you could be. Because of this there is an increased anxiety of possible failure.
However, if you had gone to the batting cages twice a day for two days prior to the game, and was hitting bullets off the fastest pitching machine available, your mind knows you are prepared. The nervous energy you now experience can be channeled into a positive adrenalin resource which very well may give you that spurt of energy which allows you to catch the line drive, instead of missing it by an inch.
Proper Preparation is a major key to handling stress. Remember, you can not hide from yourself and you can not lie to yourself.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jim_Bain