I help coach a select level U14 girls soccer team in Southeast Georgia. We have one player in particular that gets herself so worked up before a match she becomes almost ineffective. I suspect deeper problems are involved with this particular child. Any tips I can use to help calm her before a match?
Thanks for your note. I think you're absolutely right regarding problems she may be having in her personal life (or possibly even with you or other team members.) I would encourage you to meet with her one-on-one, letting her know that anything she says will be kept in complete confidence, just between the two of you, and provide her with an opportunity to "unload" (that is, talk about issues she may be having in her personal life) without fearing anyone being judgmental. If she's having a problem with someone and prefers not to confront him/her, you can also encourage her to write that person a nice long letter (even 12 pages long) telling him/her how she feels, then, putting the letter away in her dresser drawer at her dorm or home.
Another suggestion might be to introduce her to meditation, where she creates a mantra for herself and after hours of practicing, will be able to focus on and visualize her mantra, blocking out everything else around her. In this way, she can calm herself just prior to competing. If you'd like more information on this, I can fax something to you since it's not available in e-mail form. Just let me know your fax number.
Bill, I've worked with college level girls' volleyball and softball teams and have some insight into what you're experiencing. Many of the girls were highly emotional, but they also responded to the type of program I'm recommending. If you'd like to discuss this with me further, please feel free to call me.