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When an athletes anxiety and confidence is stopping them from achieving their goals. | Coaching Adults

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Posted in: All other topics on coaching adults

When an athletes anxiety and confidence is stopping them from achieving their goals.

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  • pippaglen

    A few weeks ago I was asked if I could help a 21 year old female with her training ready for her first army assessment which starts beginning of November not really giving us much time to get her fitness up. I decided to take her on knowing how much hard work she would be required to put in. 

    I have taken the athlete back to basics as I was unsure how fit she was and how much work was required to get her fitness to a reasonable level. On her first day I asked many questions that I thought would help design a training program that would fit around her needs and around her job. 

    The athlete has never participated in any sports since leaving school, she isn't unfit or overweight, personally she is more underweight and just requires a healthy eating plan due to her eating habits and requires fundermental exercises to get her started. 

    I have been working with her for the past 4 weeks and feel she has made excellent progress, she is enjoying the fitness program I have designed and is happy with her own progression however during her training sessions with myself I noticed her confidence was very low, she becomes very anxious and is constantly saying sorry during training  and when she is unable to perform an exercise. She panics when out of breath and starts to hyperventilates and panics, I have asked her if she is asthmatic or has any medical conditions which she hasn't.  I'm just putting the hyperventilating and panicking down to her confidence and anxiousness. Some training sessions she has been fine but others she has been really bad I have had to calm her down, once calmed she continues and is fine for the rest of the training sessions

    She only trains with me 2 days a week the other days she is continuing with my plan with her partner.  I have incorporated some meditation exercises on her days off to help her with her anxious and panicking which she states is going really well and she feels its working for her.

    I feel that she still requires more work and think she should put her assessment back until after Christmas.

    I really don't want to tell her to put her fitness assessment back to 2018 as its her choice. 

    • Would you tell the athlete to put their fitness assessment back a few months to help get fitter, stronger and gain more confidence or do you think she should fail to make her realise she require more work.
    • The training programme I have designed has been simple yet effective, I have started to implement harder training sessions into her programme which she is enjoying but as soon as training becomes difficult I have to tweak during session as she panics. how can we overcome this?
    • I did a timed run with her as this is part of the fitness assessment, again she panicked and gave in, the following week I did a timed run without her knowing, after she completed the run I advised her I had timed her, she was over the moon with the time, I advised her she was more than capable of completing the run and she did the run without any issues. 

    • Any advice on how she can overcome the panic, anxious and low confidence.

  • BillB

    Hi Emma

    To answer your questions

    • I would be realistic and tell her that in your opinion she should try to postpone the fitness assessment, you are right it is still her choice but you need to be honest with her.
    • I think the problem is for sure a mental problem, has she undergone any training in this area, self reflection, goal setting, etc?
    • It seems to me she has a fear of failure and if she is to progress this has to be addressed alongside the fitness training or no matter how fit she is anxiety is her biggest threat.
    • There are many great articles/books out there that deal with panic, anxiety and low confidence, possibly try the "Chimp Paradox" Steve Peters or "Sporting Body Sporting Mind"John D Syer.

    Hope this helps.


  • pippaglen

    Hi Bill

    Thank you for your reply and advice. I have myself read the chimp paradox box book many years ago and found it very useful. I will talk about the book with her. 

    She did start going to the local gym and said she was left to her own devices and didn't get any help. It was her mum that came to me asking for help. She has never done anything like this before this is why I have gone back to basics and started wit fundermentals movements. 

    On Saturday morning I asked her " why did you choose the Army?" she stated she didn't like flying so the RAF was out and she couldn't swim so the navy was out. I advised her that all the armed forces will put her through much tougher fitness tests than the training programme I was doing for her.  

    I know she has had a few family issues over the past few months, maybe this could be a contributing factor of the anxiousness. 

  • robertkmaaye
    On 03/10/17 4:23 PM, Emma Tomlinson said:

    I have myself read the chimp paradox box book many years ago and found it very useful. I will talk about the book with her. 

    Hi Emma. If you wanted to introduce her to the concepts in the book you might find the Dr Steve Peters: Optimising the Performance of the Human Mind video I shared recently useful to show her? In it he blitzes the concept explained in the book but I thought the video provided a useful summary and it could serve as a good introduction for her?

    All the best


  • pippaglen

    Thanks Rob I certainly will give it ago, I'm coaching her this morning see how she feels. 

  • JanieGray

    Well, I am an over working professional I deal with lot of stress in my day to day work, Many people suggested me to meditate every day for at least 15 minutes which I ended up doing less than 5 minutes, I could not even focus more than.

    Here is the method that I do to relief the stress and have a peace of mind one of my friend suggested me to try the SOS method early morning or while you go to sleep which really worked well for me. I know I cannot meditate for more than 5 minutes. But SOS method did a magic within minutes. It is dramatically different, a Meditations fuse specific elements in music and tones. (http://sosmethod.co/)

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