Why Wanting Perfection Can Destroy Her Game

As a coach and a parent I always admire a young person who strives to be the very best she can be in whatever endeavor she undertakes. Whether it's in the classroom, the athletic field, or on the piano a child who has a strong sense of pride for the quality of her work develops a strong work ethic and more times than not has great success in that endeavor and in life. Expecting the best from oneself demonstrates strong self-confidence, a positive self-image, and are indicative traits of what are called "super achievers" today.

Super achievers on the softball field can achieve fantastic success...but they can also suffer through an emotional roller coaster while playing a game in which no one is perfect. Every weekend that I coach I see countless girls reduced to tears every time they make an out or an error. These players are so tightly wound up that the slightest result beneath their expectations causes them to crumble emotionally. To them the game is a constant frustration. And the more frustration they experience the worse it gets as they become unable to exert the necessary mental focus and "can do" mindset in takes to succeed in softball. Don't let that be your athlete!

Super achievers can also be "perfectionists" who literally expect at a deep emotional and cognitive level to never make mistakes. These are the students who have a meltdown when they don't get a perfect grade on a test or don't achieve a 4.0 GPA every semester. These are also the softball players who expect to go through a game untouched by the inevitable adversity the game throws at EVERY player at one time or another.

Expecting success is a healthy place to be mentally, but expecting perfection on the athletic field is unhealthy and can lead to perpetual frustration, anxiety, anger and sadness; all of which diminish both an athlete's on the field performance level and her joy and desire for playing the game.

Again, having high self-expectations is both common and necessary for any athlete to be a consistent peak performer. However, contained within that peak performer's mind is a clear understanding that they can strive for perfection but will never achieve it. They recognize that the game contains many variables that are outside of their control and to expect a perfect performance every time is unrealistic and damaging to their confidence and ultimately their performance.

As I cover at length in my new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays,  a high level of self-confidence is critical for any fastpitch softball player to have if she has any chance to succeed on a regular basis. As a parent my priority with my own daughter is to protect and nourish that self-confidence any way I can. My daughter tends to be a borderline perfectionist so I have a little experience in the topic!

Ensuring that your athlete has high but reasonable expectations for her performance as well as explaining to her the factors she does and does not have control over on the field will help her to grow her self-confidence as a player and as young woman.

If your athlete is a super achiever with very high self-expectations for herself and her performance the glass is definitely half full! However, as the adult you may need to help her to manage those expectations of perfectionism that can cause her game and her confidence to spiral downward quickly!

***Announcing the release of the newest Winner's Edge Softball product: The Difference Maker $1.97 Audio Lessons! For less than $2 bucks you can hear John Kelly explain strategies for understanding and conquering the mental performance killer that may be sabotaging your athlete's success. Each audio lesson is 12-20 minutes in length and is an instant mp3 download.

Give yourself the holiday gift of your athlete's success with John's Game Changer Program: A Mental Skills Blueprint to Make Her the Best She Can Be. You'll get 6 hours of cutting edge mental skills Audio Lessons, John's new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays, a 40 page eBook, Think It & Hit It, a personal mental skills self-assessment profile and a 30 minute private coaching session with John...all for less than the cost of an hour hitting lesson!

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