Heights. I never feared them. Or loved them. But I remember when, as a teenager, I got the opportunity to go ab-sailing. I didn’t really think about it too much.
But when I had to put on the appropriate gear and walked closed to the edge of the ledge I had to sail down, I was confronted with all of the fears the other people surrounding me had. For a few moments I made those fears mine. I considered not sailing down.
Luckily I decided to do it. Those fears evaporated. I had nothing to be afraid of. Now, whenever I get a bit uneasy around heights I remind myself of that moment and subsequent experience.
We often perceive fear when there is no rational reason to be fearful. Or, we take on the fears of others. Over time these fears accumulate and we start to alter our way of thinking and living. Fear becomes a driving factor without even trying.
In sport, and in life, we need to counter this. How do we do that?
– Do not create fears based on what other people are saying. Challenge the perceptions you have about certain moments.
– Do not believe for one moment that people are completely fearless. People play and live despite these fears.
– They do this by being brave. The most powerful way of removing fears is by doing something that makes you scared. Most often it allows you to break through your fear. It breaks down limits.
And whenever fear arises, you choose being brave.
Parents & coaches can do a lot by not bestowing fear on a child by the way they talk about certain moments, eg serving at break-point down or playing against somebody you’ve lost against.
Rather, create moments where they learn how to deal with the fear. Let them experience being brave in the face of fear. This frees them up.