Tis the Season for Tryouts

Posted on: December 6th 2017

‘Tis the season to be jolly fa la-la la-la la-la-la-laaaaaa!!! ‘Tis also the season for roller derby tryouts, which let’s admit it, can be a little less than jolly.

It’s not uncommon to hear athletes are nervous or stressed out over an upcoming tryout: It’s a normal reaction. Most people tend to become anxious in situations where they know they’re being watched or evaluated. Especially when your performance can determine if you earn a spot on the roster or not! So how come some athletes thrive in this environment and others crumble under the pressure? This Mental Muscle post is all about helping you get into the right mindset to smash through the pressure and ace that tryout.

Choose Your Performance, Choose Your Mindset

Tryouts themselves don’t change your performance – it’s your reaction to them that can affect the way you act. It’s impossible to actually lose all of your athletic skill, physical ability or game knowledge just because a tryout is coming up! And if you perceive tryouts as the be all or end all to make or break your roller derby season, then you’ll be definitely facing additional stress. It’s all about choosing how you perceive the tryout process; athletes who are not negatively impacted by the thought of tryouts tend to have a more positive or neutral outlook on the process itself.

Try to view tryouts as:

  • An opportunity to prove yourself, instead of a barrier that you must pass.
  • A challenge that you can learn from, rather than an obstacle you could fail.

Tryouts can be physically and/or mentally challenging, so why make the process even more difficult or complex than it really is? Having a positive outlook can have a positive impact on your performance. By changing your mindset you can help relieve any additional stress and any unwanted emotions. It’s important to know that all emotions impact our physical bodies, minds, and behaviours. Harmful emotions tend to take up more focus and energy than the actual tryout or competition. Whereas helpful emotions can give you that needed boost or drive. So you want to strive to have emotions that will be helpful towards your performance.

Most athletes forget that they can’t control the outcome of the tryout process. What athletes do have control over however, is themselves: their thoughts, feelings, and actions. When it comes down to it, athletes need to focus on the drills, rather than worrying about the outcome. When it comes to tryouts and roster selection, your coaching staff make the final decisions. You can have the performance of your life and still not be selected for the team. So why waste your energy worrying about it? Instead, focus on keeping your mind in the present and on task.

Tips To Cope With Tryout Stress

Stop – Breathe – Reset

It’s totally normal to feel slightly nervous during an evaluation. Some athletes can use their nerves as a way to pump themselves up. However, if you notice your nerves are taking over your body, then you need to reset and gain control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions before it gets out of hand. To do this:

  • Take a second and stop moving
  • Close your eyes
  • Take three deep breaths in (clear your mind and think about breathing)
  • Give yourself a small goal to help redirect your focus
  • Open your eyes and go!

Control How You Talk to Yourself

If you’re stressed, don’t feed that feeling by talking to yourself in a negative way. Saying to yourself or out loud “I’m so stressed out!”, “I hope I’m doing this right”, or “I’m not as good as them” can impact your actions, thoughts, and feelings about your abilities. Most athletes don’t realize that they are feeding those negative thoughts. Instead, try positive self-talk:

  • Motivate yourself: “I can do that!” or “Time to leave it on the track!”
  • Be objective / Provide instructions: “Get low” or “Small controlled steps”

Focus on YOU

At the end of the day, all you can do is your best. Whether you make it on the team or not, you want to leave knowing that you gave your 100%. Remind yourself during the tryouts that you’re doing this for YOU!

To reiterate, your athletic abilities and game knowledge do not change because there is a tryout on the horizon! How you react can have a larger impact on your performance than the tryout itself. So remember – Stay focused and connect, and more importantly don’t forget to have fun in the process.

Do you have some time-tested strategies that YOU use to help you through tryouts? Post them below!

And… good luck!  – Jess Bandit

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