Comfort Zone by Nikoli Sharp

    Written by: Nikoli Sharp

Many of us, athlete or non-athlete, have a fear of getting out of our comfort zone. We were not wired to do things that are uncomfortable, scary, uncertain, or difficult with ease. We were wired to protect ourselves from those things. To protect ourselves from embarrassment, hurt, and failure. To protect ourselves from the uncertainties that come into our lives, placing an obstacle in front of us while putting us in an unfamiliar situation that makes us want to run and hide. These situations bring out stress, tension, and fear while hindering our progressive state.

Your athlete may be fearful of one or many things in the sport of softball that can range from simply communicating on the field to the fear of diving to get a ground ball. No matter how big or small the fear is, it is hurting their attitude, performance, and success. In order for them to become a more confident, dynamic, and courageous athlete who can defeat the detrimental state of hesitation caused from the uncertainties, fears, and worries, the best thing I found as an athlete that helped me, was breaking down the fear.

1. Break down the fear to get a better understanding of the athletes perspective that is the root of the problem. This will help you understand their mindset, help them see through a new lens, and help ignite the game plan in facing the fear and knocking down the wall!

2. Break down the skill they are afraid of performing so they can practice it in increments in order to feel more comfortable and confident in their game performance.

3. Support from coaches, teammates, and/or parents by listening, encouraging, motivating, and giving advice to reach past the fear and grab onto the courage and knowledge that is needed for progress.

As a coach and instructor myself, I want to be the best role model, supporter, and encourager for my athletes! It is important for us role models to help our athletes understand that our accomplishments are on the other side of our fears. Sometimes our patience is tested, we get angry, and completely frustrated when they aren’t performing well. Majority of the time, your athlete is already feeling upset, confused, and embarrassed. So instead of adding to those negative emotions that can be detrimental and hindering, we have to be the listening ear, the encouraging words of advice, the motivating teacher, and the lighter to the passion they have for the sport. We have to make sure we listen, ask questions, and encourage them so that we can understand the problem and act on fixing it instead of making it worse.

They are capable of so much more than they can imagine, and if we can help shape their perspective in running towards their fear and facing it head on, instead of running from it, they are going to break down the barriers and walls they place before themselves, reach a higher potential, obtain new goals, and acquire the ability to break down future barriers!

Our athletes have exceptional potential, and as a former athlete who chased her collegiate-athlete dreams like her colleagues, I want to help them get there! We ALL want to help them get there! It isn’t going to be easy, but it’s possible. The life of an athlete is ALWAYS going to have highs and lows, we just have to help them see through a more confident lens, to create a brave heart, and a more courageous demeanor as they work through their goals and reach their dream.

So, jump onto the roller coaster ride and hold on. It will be fun, a little scary, but absolutely worth it.

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