How to tackle nerves before and during a game?

Guess what movie we watched after our Saturday night’s game? “Legend of Bagger Vance” !

If you have watched that movie you know how Bagger Vance helps Runnulph Junuh to find his swing.  Even if it is a different sport than softball I believe the idea behind it is the same.

It is hard to comprehend how good players who perform great during practice completely get themselves spooked during a game. One of our pitcher did great during practice but was told that her pitching coach was out among the spectators watching.  That was just enough to derail her focus.  She is a new, up and coming pitcher.  Everything bothered her.  She was able to focus on everything else (like other team & parents commenting) other than pitching.

How do you calm down nerves?  I started searching through scores of websites about what the pro’s do before games.  Some of them have their own set of rituals  they do before they play, some of them have their favorite music to listen to, some have their lucky bats or lucky cleats or lucky wrist band they wear.

Have you read some of the superstitious things the major leaguers do?

Some of it is down right disgusting!!!  It makes one believe that they place more importance on these meaningless rituals than believe in their own abilities.

These feelings of anxiety and nervousness are deep-rooted in our biology and psychology and are evolution tools that helped us survive in ancient times.  They make us anxious and give us a kick of adrenalin that was needed to be on top of the survival game. Although we have toned down the need for these feelings since, thankfully we don’t live in a barbaric times, we still have these deeply ingrained in our psyche.

Then I did some reading on the miracle of acetaminophen on calming the nerves.  It is supposed to work on the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) highlighted yellow in the picture.  For more information of the scientific study, please visit the link when you click on the brain scan.

Calm nerves before game
Calm nerves before game

Again the problem with drugs is there are always side effects and if the scientist themselves are still trying to figure out how acetaminophen works in this process then you have to be cautious so later on in life when you are sitting in front of TV and watching an infomercial about “If you took Acetaminophen to calm down you nerves, please call this number, our lawyers are waiting to help you claim the rightful damage”, you are not thinking of calling that number.

Moreover this can cause serious liver damage if taken long-term.

There should be a much simpler way to calm down nerves.  At this time I am going for mind over matter route.  We are going to try some music and a list of items the pitcher needs to do in between pitches to keep her mind occupied which would make her focus more on what she needs to do instead of paying attention to unnecessary CHATTER in the field.

If you know of things that have worked of you to calm down your nerves other than a glass of wine 😉 please let me know.  Look forward to hearing a few interesting ones.

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