an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
Our emotions impact us more than we care to imagine. They play a huge role in how we perceive our environment and interact with the world.
Fear, being a common emotion necessary for our own self-protection, is something that we experience quite frequently in any athletic endeavour.
Fear has a clear impact on our physiology, causing the release of cortisol and enacting our fight or flight response, in order to improve our chance of survival.
So, fear is obviously a very useful emotion. The problem with experiencing fear too frequently when playing sport is we move towards a psychology of survival. And when we’re competing we want to be thriving, not just surviving.
So, if we are to break this cycle of continual fear, it is important that we move towards a psychology of acceptance and thus abundance. We must move towards a psyche of accepting the opportunity and the challenge in each moment, whilst not attaching ourselves to the outcome of each moment. There will be many, many moments.
Any game is made up of multiple moments, with some moments obviously having a huge impact on the ultimate outcome of the game. However, in order to be ready to commit to doing our best in the important moments, we need to accept that each moment in itself is ultimately significant. Thus continual exertion and execution become a habit, which makes us more likely to execute when we are given the opportunity to, within the game.
However, just as each moment comes, we need to accept that any previous moments have passed and thus can’t be affected. In order to execute effectively in each moment, we must let go of any previous ones. We must learn to be fully present.
All that matters is this moment in time. There is no past and there is no future. However, like anything we must accept the paradox that there will be many moments like this one to come, so as to not attach ourselves too much to the outcome of this one.
Attaching ourselves to the outcome is what generates fear. “What if I miss?” “What if I score?” In order to get rid of persistent fear, we must stop asking ourselves what if questions. We must learn to accept that the only thing that we can control is our efforts. So, that is what we should focus on.
If we accept that we can’t control everything and that we will do our utmost to achieve success, then there’s going to be real comfort in that. Whether we are successful or unsuccessful doesn’t really matter.
To quote John Wooden..
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming”
So, in order to play with freedom, play with adventure and enjoy the journey, we must learn to do what we did as kids and just play. The very reason we became involved in the sport in the first place.
Usually, when we achieve that state, we are much closer to achieving the highly sought after flow-state that continues to elude athletes around the globe.
So, my advice is to be a kid again.
Remember why you play.
Accept the challenge.
Enjoy the journey.
Play with adventure.