How two elite sportsmen learned to live with a stammer

"I stammered, I blinked, I rubbed my eyes. It was so embarrassing. I felt embarrassed and many of the emotions I felt as a boy in school came back to me at age 28.He gave a BBC interview just days before Kelly Brown captained Scotland in the Six Nations in 2013. It was never published. Brown is a bit of a stammer and asked to have the interview pulled.Stammer refers to a neurological condition where it is physically difficult to speak. Up to 8% of children with an external link will stammer at one point or another, but most will eventually speak fluently. Up to 3% of adults will suffer from Stammering for the rest of their lives.Brown was eleven years old and was preparing to speak in front of his school assembly on a recent ski trip when he encountered his stammer.Brown said that he wrote a script all day and knew exactly what he was going to say," Brown explained to BBC Sport."When I stood in assembly in front the entire school, which is probably around 100 children and teachers, I just completely frozen. I couldn’t speak a word."I didn't know why but one of my teachers noticed something was not quite right. They asked me some questions and I was able get past the block."It was the first time that I realized I spoke differently."Brown isn’t the only famous sportsman with a stammer. Brandon Shell, an offensive tackle with the Seattle Seahawks, is one example. According to Shell, stammering or "stuttering" is a feeling that can be felt by the BBC.Shell stated, "It feels like I stutter when I speak and the word comes up from my chest and it just sticks,""I can't get the word out. My breath is kind of holding and my stomach pulls up. Then I need to calm down and get the word out.What is stammering?Steph Burgess is a speech and language therapist for the NHS:"Stammering" is an extremely complex condition, because speech production can be incredibly complicated."When producing speech, we must coordinate the movements of more than 100 muscles. We also have to synchronize that with our breathing, because it's the outbreath which powers the movement in our vocal chords. Then we shape that outflow with our lips.Smooth speech requires coordination and timing. Stimulating people can cause their sounds to not always flow smoothly due to differences in their brains.Stammering and sportsIn 2020, Brandon Shell signed with the Seattle SeahawksCommunication is a key characteristic for elite athletes. This is why many people with speech difficulties might feel that team sports are not for them.Both Shell and Brown both believe that sport has helped them stammering, even though they have reached the top of their respective professions. Stimulating was never an issue on the field. Brown attributes this to his team environment and the quality of his teammates.Sport is inclusive by its very nature. Brown stated that everyone is accepted and all are different."Part of the sport is being able to communicate with your teammates and to form a relationship with them. A good team must support one another. It's an incredible environment for anyone with a stammer.Shell, 29 years old, says that being confident in his surroundings has helped him speak fluently when he plays American football.He said, "It helps us do something we love, such as a sport. We are so confident in our work, we don’t need to think about it.""I believe that's why I didn't stutter in football because I was confident in my words, and it's what I know."Burgess is in agreement with Shell's analysis.According to the NHS speech and language therapist, "The old mantra of "feel the fear and do it anyway" is still applicable for stammering."Fear is often the root of the greatest problems. If you do something that makes you feel good about your self, it can help boost your confidence."InterviewsKelly Brown, a former Scotland captain, retired from rugby union in 2017 with 64 caps for ScotlandStammering is a condition that cannot be treated. Stimulating into adulthood will make it more likely that a person will continue to stammer throughout their lives. People who have stammering will learn how to manage it through cognitive behaviour therapy and other psychological therapies.Shell's stammer was not well-known when he entered the NFL Draft process for 2016The draft is a crucial moment in the NFL's career. It allows young players to be selected by their teams for the next season. They can be interviewed by any team, and they will also have to pass the usual physical and skill tests.Interviews last just 15 minutes and can be nerve-wracking. But imagine going through these interviews and struggling to make your points because you have a stammer.Shell stated that you already feel pressured because of your future potential employers. There is already some nervousness. They ask you something suddenly and you can't get any answers."They assume you are thinking about it, but in reality I know it and can't get it out right now."Then, the pressure starts and I feel like I don't know what to say, it's not coming out." This happened to me twice or three times during that draft process.Shell replied that he didn't think people knew it was a stutter. It improved as I grew older, and it all depends on how comfortable I was. It was easy to deal with by taking a deep breathe and taking my time. People often ask me why I speak so slowly. I explain that it is so they can understand what I am saying."Brown's advice for those who stammerBrown is now a Saracens coach, where he spent most of his rugby career. Brown is also a coach at Saracens, where he gives motivational talks and after-dinner speeches about how to overcome barriers. He was asked what advice he would offer to someone who struggles with speech. His answer was simple.He said, "Embrace it." It's part of you, and it's how you talk. It shouldn't hold you back. "Anyone who stammers can do anything they want," I believe.