But I what I want to talk about today is a message that was insightful for me as I read an interview from a young French tennis player, Antoine Hoang, who is completely new to the main professional circuit, having played challenger tournaments only for a year and participated to his first Grand Slam tournament at Rolland Garros, having benefited from an invitation. He won his first 2 matches, the second against Verdasco, one top player on clay, in front of thousands of people which was not usual for him and could have added a lot of pressure. But he didn’t let that interfere with his game. “I am happy that I haven’t been overwhelmed by the event”, he said. I thought that it was what I had been dreaming of for a long time. So, I told myself “don’t start to freak out, it would be absurd to be afraid of things we’ve dreamed of. You are where you wanted to be, so there is no reason to be afraid”.
Although it’s not really absurd to be afraid (it’s a normal physiological reaction ingrained in our primitive brain which helped the human beings to survive through millions of years), I really love this reframe, this shift in perspective and I believe this can be useful for any athlete undergoing fear in an important competition. It’s OK to be scared or nervous. What you don’t want is to be paralyzed by fear and instead keep trusting yourself and switching that nervousness into positive excitement. Remembering that at some point, you dreamed to be in this situation helps do this and go beyond the fear of this new situation. If you are afraid to not be good enough in a new team (high school, college, next level league), remember you dreamed of it, if you are scared to fail at an important competition (state Meet, Nationals, Junior Olympics etc…), remember than you dreamed to be there. And If you are there, you belong. Trust yourself. It would be “absurd” to be afraid of things you’ve dreamed of.