Regular distractions such as fans, injury, results, opponents etc. can be hard enough to block out. Throw in the added pressure of college coaches or scouts watching you perform and many athletes struggle with their mental game. You can’t focus on your performance while you try to impress scouts or think about your future and a possible chance at earning a scholarship.
Jessica, a high school soccer player who is interested in playing at the collegiate level becomes very anxious when performing in front of college coaches. “Every time I look over and see someone in college gear on the sidelines it makes me nervous, I worry if I will get into the school I want to go to,” Jessica said. She would play with greater tension and thus not take risks.
Thinking about colleges is a very stressful time for high school athletes. You want to be mentally prepared to perform your best in front of others who are watching you. Coaches look for athletes that can perform under adversity or tough situations. You want to perform your best in front of coaches and scouts, but how do you do this without being distracted or allowing the pressure to affect your performance?
Here are some tips to help you manage these stressors:
- Set aside time to talk with your parents and coaches about colleges. Try not to discuss or think about it outside of these time frames. The more organized you feel, the easier it will be to put these distractions aside and focus on your performance.
- Prepare some short phrases you can say to yourself if you find yourself becoming distracted when you see college coaches during competition. For example, you might say to yourself: “Stay in the game, focus on the ball”, “Relax and focus on my game”
- If you become distracted when college coaches or scouts are in the stands, make an agreement with your coaches and parents that you won’t talk about it before competition.
- If your interested in continuing your sport at the collegiate level, remember that there are 100’s of colleges in the country and you will find one that fits what you are looking for.
- Play your game and don’t attempt to impress others. If you are the type of athlete that becomes motivated in the presence of college coaches, make sure you focus on the field and don’t try too hard to impress them.
You want to approach the game with the same intensity and focus as usual even if scouts or coaches are watching. Trying to be a stand out, trying too hard to get a hit, score a goal, or look like a star does not help you perform your best. Lastly, when you start to think about people who are watching you, stop and refocus on your performance. Distractions can only hurt you when you give them energy.