Jan 7, 2012 7:46 AM
This past weekend our travel organization held tryouts for our 12u, 14u and 16u spring 2012 teams. We had about 120 girls come out over two days hoping to make one of the six teams. The competition was pretty stiff and in choosing the teams last night we had to make some really tough decisions, including cutting some girls already in the organization.
As is always the case in a tryout scenario many girls are nervous and don't perform their best with the many coaches, peers and parents watching their every move. As coaches, unless we watched them play on another team or got a good report from a reliable source, all we have to go on is their tryout effort.
As I observed these many young athletes I could instantly tell who was anxious. They would hurry their approach to the ball or the throw, and would have timing issues hitting off the machine. I could just see in many of the girls' eyes and body language how disappointed they were in their performances.
Now ours is one of the best organizations in southern California and it takes being a pretty good player to join us. However, I can't help but wonder if nerves cost several of these girls a shot with us.
Whether your athlete is trying out over the next few weeks or not until spring here are some tips to get her ready to play her best when it counts most:
1. Relax - this may sound easy, but in many ways tryouts are more stressful than games; particularly if it's for a team your athlete really wants to play for. Taking occasional deep breathes can help tremendously. Try to keep the conversation light on the drive to tryouts; do not set excessive expectations on your athlete as this will only serve to increase her anxiety and reduce her performance.
2. Monitor Her Thinking - it all starts between the ears. If she can focus on positive thoughts the moment she wakes up in the morning on tryout day, and maintain those thoughts all day long she will reduce her stress level. If she can recall a particular success or successes she has had on the field in the past she will increase her confidence level. If she thinks she "can" she will be more relaxed, allowing for a higher level of concentration and focus.
Thanks for reading! --John Kelly, Softball Smarts
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