Expectations can be the 700 pound gorilla in the room and here is why. In a game that is built on failure fastpitch softball will inevitably kick your athlete in the stomach and test her ability to overcome adversity. Expectations that are unrealistic can be very damaging to her self-confidence and disrupt her performance by causing undue stress and anxiety. Let's look at the three most common forms of expectations your athlete may fall prey to:
- Parental Expectations - the most common and damaging for any player. Children naturally want to please their parents so excessive and unrealistic expectations placed on a child can cause her to try too hard causing mistakes. Mistakes cause increased ire by the parents and the vicious cycle of expectations accelerates further damaging the athlete's performance.
- Coach Expectations - often as damaging as those of parents because they likely rear their ugly head during the game and right after a mistake or poor at bat when a coach is most likely to use negative verbal or non-verbal communication to express disapproval of the athlete's performance. Many coaches are prone to expect perfection from their teams and players...which is a losing proposition as no team or player that has ever played the game is perfect.
- Player's Expectations- Certainly having an expectation for success is healthy for your athlete. expectation. After all she works hard at her game and thus should expect a reward for her efforts. However many players suffer from perfectionsim in which they expect that their game will always be without mistakes, outs or hits (if a pitcher). Thus every game is a set up for frustration, anger or sadness. This behavior and thought process is extremely dangerous and can have profound negative impact on all areas of her life.
As a parent of a softball player and a coach (game and mental skills) I highly recommend that you be honest in assessing your own expectations for your athlete. The pressure you may be putting on her may be an unconscious one, yet she feels it just the same. In my new book, How She Thinks Is How She Plays, I cover in great detail just how difficult a game fastpitch softball really is and how excessive expectations act to diminsh your athlete's game, not enhance it.
Suffice it to say that a hitter has less than 1/3 of one second to determine the ball's velocity, location and movement in a strike zone that measures about six square feet. Is it tough to hit a ball...you bet it is!
My suggestion is to also have a discussion with your athlete to determine what expectations she has for her own performance to determine whether these expectations are healthy or unrealistic. Moreover softball should be a fun activity for your athlete where she can learn the many positive life lessons sports can teach her. Burdensome expectations only serve to make those opportunities for growth and joy blurred and unrecognizable.
Learn more about Winner's Edge Softball and the 21 Mental Performance Killers that sabotage your athlete's success and efforts to become the consistent peak performer college coaches want.
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