This is a clip from the movie Old School. It depicts the scene right before the group is to perform. In it, Will Ferrell gives a very animated rendition of an inspirational speech revolving around keeping one’s composure (which we know is a very important trait.)

We know what was intended to be communicated, it certainly did not translate that way. Yelling, screaming and throwing chairs around does not exactly say, “I’m composed, follow my example.” Though many parents, coaches and teammates mean well, a timely “RELAX!!!” yelled from the background is not exactly what is needed to calm the nerves. It actually has the opposite effect most times and our bodies react to the startling exclamation.

So why do so many people do this? They genuinely want their child, athlete or teammate to relax. They know this is important for performing at your best. Unfortunately, the stress and excitement of the game can cause the “helper” to come off as more of a hindrance. As soon as that word catches your attention, you’re distracted and focusing on the wrong things. Ironically, the perception of the helper is probably, “They choked because they didn’t relax!”

This can be remedied however. All a coach or sport psychology consultant needs to do is to teach the athlete to be able to tell herself to relax. With the proper tools and the power of awareness, the athlete will be able to notice when he or she needs to relax, and get the job done themselves. And the bonus? No more annoying yelling!

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