Helping Athletes Who Have Strong Physiological Responses To Fear #BITESIZE

Helping Athletes Who Have Strong Physiological Responses To Fear #BITESIZE

Dan Steele

Dan Steele was an American bobsledder and track and field athlete who competed from the early 1990s to 2002. He competed in two Winter Olympics, where he won the bronze medal in the four-man event at Salt Lake City in 2002. Dan was also one of the most successful collegiate track and field coaches in America.  Sadly, Dan no longer coaches as he suffered a serious stroke in 2017.

Fear is evident in every sport and affects athletes and performers differently.  From overthinking to strong physiological responses in an athlete’s body.  Decision making is then naturally impeded, impacting performance levels.

In today’s episode an inspirational Olympian, Dan Steele offers insights into how he dealt with an accident whilst competing in bobsleigh and then managed to head back up the mountain to compete again despite losing control of his thoughts and having serious doubts and fears about dying.   David Charlton then goes on to share a strategy that you can use to reduce any physiological responses that you have to fear and quieten your mind in the process too.

Key Takeaways include:

  • Death often crossed your mind in bobsleigh as it was like riding a crazy rollercoaster.
  • All athletes get scared; fear is unavoidable and part of sport and life.
  • Fear has an essential role to play in our survival. 
  • When frightened or scared an athletes breathing is likely to increase, as does their heart rate, peripheral blood vessels in the skin constrict, whereas central blood vessels around vital organs dilate to flood them with oxygen and nutrients.  Muscles are pumped with blood and can become tighter too impacting on motor skills.

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Relevant Podcast Episodes To Help You Cope Better With Fear

Ep017: Gio Valiante – How to Play Fearless Golf

Ep115: Jeremy Snape – Mental Strength to Succeed: Learning Lessons from International Cricket

Ep142: Alessia Bruno – Is Striving for Perfection a Good Thing in Gymnastics?

Ep148: Derek Tate – How to Build Your Mental Toughness Through Skiing

Ep222: Ruth Chiles – How To Help Athletes Who Freeze Under Pressure #BITESIZE

Other Relevant Blogs And Resources To Help You Reduce Your Fear Responses

Blog: 9 Tips for Children from Olympians

Blog: How To Play Well When You Aren’t Feeling Great

Blog: Does Your Warm Up Influence How You Perform?

Blog: Using ACT and Mindfulness to Improve Your Sporting Performances

Blog: Why You Should Meditate To Improve Your Sport Performance?

Guided Mindfulness Meditation Practices with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Attunement Repair Exercise



Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and we read every single one of them!

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.   

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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