Dealing with frustration

During some recent private pitching lessons I noticed an unusually high level of frustration among some of the students.

First, let me say that I think frustration is misunderstood. It’s true it is uncomfortable, and people usually avoid it if possible.

I try to push student-athletes to the edge of frustration though, and when they appear to have had enough then we change directions. To me, frustration (in a learning environment) can be the path from not-understanding to understanding.

Unfortunately, parents and players try to avoid those feelings, and that can slow down the learning process.

Sports in general can be a full-time job with frustrations. Specifically in softball, pitchers are always working on form, new pitches, errors, etc., while their parents are investing time (and money) for games, lessons, equipment, etc.

I challenge players to view frustration as something positive, something that supports their learning and growth.

Further, here are the four-steps I suggest (and use with students) for handling frustration:

  1. Slow down. When we’re frustrated we tend to rush to get past our frustrations.
  2. Take a deep breathe, or two. Controlled breathing is the fastest way to calm down.
  3. Create mental space. Push away from the situation mentally. Then, visualize moving beyond the frustration.
  4. Change the meaning of frustration. Remember, being frustrated can mean learning something. It can also mean you’re about to have a breakthrough.
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3 Responses to “Dealing with frustration”

  1. Kent Utterback July 1, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    so true. I’ve seen many young players who let frustration take over their skills as players. Those who succeed always show a regaining of composure, as through taking a breath to talking to themselves, and then come back to play a great game. Conversely, I can’t tell you that there have been many times that a frustrated player continued on to a poor performance and eventual exit from softball. Your points are well taken.

  2. coachmikeq July 1, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Who better than a former umpire to see the emotions of the players in action. Thanks Kent, Mike

  3. Ana July 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    terrific advice for everyone, not just softball players:)

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