Harness fear to maximize performance.
Whenever starting something new or whenever you must perform at the top of your game, it is natural to exhibit a degree of fear. fear can be motivating, but it can just as easily be paralyzing. Great coaches help their team members understand that fear is natural and learning to harness it can produce greatness.
When I started coaching I never forgot what it was like to experience that fear for the physical aspect of the game — which has become even more ferocious. It is extremely difficult for a player to reach their potential if they cannot overcome the aspect of fear.
When there is fear, there is no joy. If there is no joy, there is no real passion! I have been in many coaching staff meetings were players are belittled, berated and overly criticized for being timid or fearful in the contact element of the game. Obviously as a coach, if a player lacks contact skills it is a liability in a collision sport.
As the level of competition increases from high school to professional football, non-contact players are slowly weeded out. Professional football still has players who don’t like the contact, but possess other superior characteristics.
Knowing what it is like to overcome and cope with my own anxieties and fear has given me a different perspective than most coaches. Rather than belittle and degrade a person’s fear, I applaud their great courage. It takes bravery to step on the field day after day and to overcome that fear and perform. What courage it takes for a young person to go to school every day and overcome the fear of seeing the bully.
Since the door has closed on my professional coaching career I have expanded my horizons and come out of my comfort zone to grow and continue to overcome my own anxieties.
One of the most rewarding is starting to practice Gracie Jiu Jitsu with Coach Carlos Diaz in Destin, Florida. The Gracie program also offers a program called Bully Proof. It is one of my favorites because it gives the individual the tools and self-esteem and confidence to overcome fears. I empathize and hope everyone, especially young people living in fear, find their way to Be Not Afraid and overcome!
As leaders, it is our jobs to help our players achieve greatness, even if only in their own minds, by conquering fear and channeling it to do good.