G.Y.M.R. For Tryouts

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is written from the P.O.V. of a baseball player, but can be seamlessly translated to EVERY sport.

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In a matter of weeks, athletes all over the country will be trying out for Spring Sports Teams.

These tryouts can be challenging for athletes both mentally and physically. While some athletes get excited for the opportunity, many more may feel a sense of anxiety a fear of failures, and a pressure to perform ABOVE their abilities. While these feelings of anxiety, fear, and nervousness is very normal, it can have negative effects on an athlete's performance. 

Acknowledging these mental hurdles and combatting them can help an athlete reach their peak performance and have a successful tryouts.

The outcome goal of any tryout is to make the team. However, the process of making this team starts with maintaining a confident mindset, and getting our peak performance to show up when it matters most.

There are two types of people who tryout for teams.

1)      Confident players who are focused on having great reps, one at a time, and setting themselves up to make the team.

2)      Nervous players who are terrified of making mistakes, catastrophize every mistake as the nail in the coffin of their chance of making the team.

Which player would you rather be? The answer is obvious, but getting to that point is not as easy.

We perform at our best when we are confident and relaxed. Here are a few thoughts I have on how to set ourselves up for success at tryouts:

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

During tryouts many athletes get caught up in worrying about factors that are out of their control, such as a coach’s opinion of them, impressing said coaches and potential teammates, weather conditions, other players’ abilities, and other factors of this nature. These can all create a fear of failure or embarrassment and can lead to a crippling lack of confidence. So how about we focus on THE CONTROLLABLESour attitude, our effort, and our energy.

Seriously. Do not get caught up in the expectations or opinions of others.

FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT

Have the mindset that you’ve already made the team. Carry that idea with you mentally and physically. Have BIG body language with your chin up and chest out, that says I’m here for one reason, and that’s to dominate.

Tell yourself, I’ve already made the team and I’m here this week to get myself ready for the first game. I’m not saying be arrogant, I’m saying be confident. You still must hustle, you still have EVERYTHING to prove, but allowing yourself to relax is a huge step in allowing yourself to perform at your high level. 

Having this mindset will NOT guarantee your spot on the roster. If you do not end up making the team, there will be disappointment, however if you allow yourself to play free and relaxed, then you gave yourself your best chance to succeed.

ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE

This is similar to “fake it til you make it” in a sense that you are re-framing the situation to help yourself get relaxed and play confidently. If you’re a freshman, this may be your first tryout, if you’re a JV player, this may be your first time trying out for varsity, but it’s not the first time you’ve been on the field. You’ve taken thousands of groundballs, thousands of rounds of batting practice, thrown thousands of bullpens. You’ve been there before! Remind yourself of your talent and your previous successes. Play it freely and confidently no matter who is watching. If you make the team, there will be fans in the stands at your games so why not prepare for playing in front of those people while at tryouts? This is the game you love, the game you enjoy. Treat it his way, and just that you’re getting your work in for the season.

PERFECTION IS IMPOSSIBLE…AND THAT’S JUST FINE

Humans are imperfect. No one waltzes through life without failing at some point. So why do we expect to make it through tryouts without making a mistake? Give yourself permission to fail. You don’t have to be perfect! Failing isn’t just OK, it’s actually good – for a couple of reasons. Number 1, failing provides us with a learning opportunity. And number 2, coaches want to see how a player responds to a mistake.

Let’s say you’re trying out for the baseball team and you make an error on the groundball hit to you, coaches are looking to see how you respond. Do you slam your glove and pout, keeping that mistake stuck in your mind, leading to another error? Or are you hungry for the next one ready to prove you are mentally tough enough to play on this team?

Give yourself the freedom to play with out the fear of failing, without the worry over mistakes. Be focused on THIS play, and ready for the next one when it comes!

KEEP A LEVEL HEAD (PROPER PERSPECTIVE)

One of the biggest mistakes an athlete can make at tryouts is exaggerating or catastrophizing every play at tryouts. A ground ball is just that…A. GROUND. BALL. It’s a rep. It is not your spot on the roster on the line! If you make an error, strikeout, give up a home run, it’s OK! It was just one play, one at bat, one pitch, it’s not the end of the world. That one pitch did not end your chances of making the team. Do no catastrophize the mistake, it was one play; flush it, take a deep breath, and ready yourself for the next one!

Keep everything about tryouts in a proper perspective. You GET to be out on the ball field playing the game you love, you don’t HAVE to be there. Try to view tryouts as an exciting challenge you GET to rise to, rather than an intimidating conflict you HAVE to get through.

SUMMARY

·         CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

·         FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT

·         ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE

·         PERFECTION IS IMPOSSIBLE…AND THAT’S JUST FINE

·         KEEP A LEVEL HEAD (PROPER PERSPECTIVE)

 

At the end of the week make sure you’ve done something unforgettable instead of regrettable. Once you find out if you’ve made the team or not take “The Pillow Test”, when your head hits the pillow at night are you saying “I’m glad I did this” or “I wish I would’ve done this”? If it’s the former, then that’s all you can control and you can be satisfied with your effort. That is a true success.

 

Let me know how I can get your mind right and ready for tryouts!

DM me on Twitter: @DMCKaplan

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Email me winDMC@kaplanmentalgame.com

Ben Kaplan