Using Nerves to Fuel Your Confidence
Is it possible to be nervous and confident simultaneously during a baseball game?
Baseball players are often placed into two categories: “chokers” and “clutch” or, to say it another way, the “nervous player” and the “confident player.”
This implies you are one or the other: nervous with no confidence or confident with no nerves.
It also implies that feeling nervous will prevent you from playing your best on the field.
This gives “nerves” a bad rap.
When you see nerves as something totally negative, at the first sign of nerves, you will automatically believe you will have a bad game.
You will be so focused on these nerves that they will swell inside you until you become overwhelmed and unable to see straight on the field.
But confidence is not the absence of nerves… It is the management of nerves to a level that actually fuels your performance.
Without a slight bit of nerves, you cannot perform at your peak.
The clutch performer still has some degree of nerves but sees that jittery feeling in a positive light.
The clutch player views nerves as a sign of readiness or excitement. It signals to the player they are ready to go and so this feeling helps fuel their performance.
Texas Rangers pitcher Alex Claudio is in the mix to become the closer for the 2018 MLB season.
In a time where teams seek out hard throwing relief pitchers to close out games, Claudio’s arsenal is not prototypical. Claudio relies on a sinking fastball that averages 86.8 mph and a change-up that was the slowest in the Majors last year.
Nonetheless, Claudio is a confident closer. Claudio focuses on his strong pitches and goes after hitters. Claudio’s mindset helped him earn the accolade of Ranger’s pitcher of the year.
Claudio has worked hard to get to where he is today. All his work, preparation and studying of the game have contributed to a high level of confidence.
CLAUDIO: “I know I have worked hard to get here. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I feel I’ve figured things out, I feel good and I am confident. It has been hard, but I think it’s paying off.”
Despite all of his success, Claudio admits to being nervous but sees those nerves as a necessary element to his game.
CLAUDIO: “I always feel a little bit nervous, but I feel that’s necessary. If you are not nervous, you’ve got problems. You have to have a little bit of nerves and anxiety. That’s what makes me good.”
Those “nerves” prepare Claudio to go after hitters and preparation is the most critical factor that contributes to confidence and peak performance.
If you want to be on top of your game, embrace your nerves as helpful and productive to your game. If you think nerves give you an edge, your confidence will be higher too.
Striking the Right Balance of Nerves:
1. Get it out of your head that a bit of nerves is a bad thing.
2. Review past performances, good and bad, and rate your level of nerves from 1-10.
What is the optimal range for yourself? Maybe you are at your best between 2-3 and 5 and up causes you to fall off your game.
3. Learn relaxation and psych up strategies that will help you stay in your optimal range during games.
A mental game coach can help you find your optimal intensity and teach your strategies to help you fuel your confidence.
Prepare, be confident and use those nerves to give you an edge over the competition!
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