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  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

Do You Get Nervous?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Kobe Bryant was once working with a group of young athletes on a panel for a Project Play summit when he asked one of the athletes, "Do you get nervous?"

They said, "A little. Some butterflies, maybe."

Kobe replied, "Completely normal. Same thing you get before you play or perform."

He then told them a story. He said that before going onto the court to play games, he would wait in the tunnel of the arena and listen to the crowd. He was like a character in a movie, and he was ready to embrace his role as either the hero or the villain - whichever character he needed to be. He was ready to earn the cheers and the boos.

Just before jogging onto the floor, if he still felt anxious or nervous, Kobe would mentally transform into "The Black Mamba," emotionless and untouchable. It was like Maximus, the Roman general who later fought as a Gladiator in the arena, rubbing dirt on his hands before going into battle. No opponent or circumstance would intimidate him.

Kobe said, "That is why superheroes work so well. It is representative of us."

In one of his last interviews, Kobe says that he deals with fear by facing it head-on. When he was asked how he sees past the cloud of fear and emotion, he said:

“I try to be still and understand that things and emotions come and go, and the important thing to do is to accept them all, to embrace them all, and then you can choose to do with them what you want, versus being controlled by emotion.”
Players can be so consumed by fear to the point where they say, 'Nah, it’s not good to feel fear. I shouldn’t be nervous.' It does nothing but grow, versus stepping back and saying, 'Yeah, I am nervous about this situation, yeah I am fearful about this situation, but what am I afraid of?'
And then you unpack it and see it for what it really is, which is nothing more than your imagination.”

Fear is nothing more than your imagination running its course; it’s not really a thing. Kobe then said:

“You think about game-winning shots or game-winning free throws; people go to the free-throw line and they’re nervous about it. What are you really nervous about? If you miss the shot, then what happens? Are you going to be embarrassed because 1,000s or millions of people see you miss the shot?
And then what?
People are going to talk bad about you? Are those things even important? Are you worried about letting your teammates down? I’m sure you’ve let them down before, at practice and things of that nature, and they are still here. When you are able to unpack it, you look at it for what it is, which is really nothing.”

Unpack nervousness and fear, and don’t hide from it. Be able to look at your emotions and deal with them. Success and failure are both parts of life. Trial and error tell you, “Sometimes you make the shot, and sometimes you miss the shot.”

You can't be the hero if you aren't willing to take the risk. And every hero fails at least once before they win.

Life is a cycle of good days and bad days. Life is a journey of evolution and the results don’t really matter. Constantly improve, stay curious, and constantly search for ways to get better. If you do that, you will win more and you will have more fun along the way.

We get obsessed with the results instead of being obsessed with trying to figure it out, learn, grow, and enjoy it all!

We get obsessed with the results, but the beauty is in the process, the journey, and the growth.


1 - What are you afraid of?

2 - What could happen?

3 - What is the worst that could happen?

4 - Are those things really important?

5 - Will this matter in 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years?

Would you rather take the shot and miss, or would you rather never take the shot and watch someone else do it? We will win or lose anyway, so I might as well take the shot and have the opportunity to be the hero. If I miss, it’s not the end of the world. I'll learn from it and try better next time.

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