Athletes and Performance Anxiety
Have you ever felt like your anxiety was too high and worked against you in practice or in a game? A certain amount of competitive “juices” or anxiety can be good and can even bring about more excitement in a performance. Sometimes, however, when it feels like you’re too high or too anxious performance can be less than optimal.
Strategies for Reducing Anxiety and Increasing Attention
- Limit unnecessary stressors. This might seem obvious, even a “no-brainer” but it’s important to remember a few good behaviors. These include being around more positive people, planning your food needs, and a having a good schedule for rehydration and nutrition. Be on time and have a plan written for your practice or competition to follow so you do not have to think of “what next?”
- Have a routine. This follows the suggestions in the first item. Have a general routine outlined so you know what you are doing, when you will do it, and how long it should take. This way you do not have to worry about having enough time to warm up or complete certain drills.
- Monitor your “self talk” in your head. Sometimes we have too much self talk or chatter going on in our mind. A good metaphor is our thoughts are like people in an office building. If a person at the office is constantly reviewing all that can go wrong it would get difficult to work. This same idea holds true for yourself and the way you coach yourself through challenges. Create some basic calming self-talk statements. It would be like having a supportive person at the office talk with you. This person is reasonable and has good suggestions.
- Stay in the moment. Observe what is around you but don’t judge it. Take it in. Breathe in and out at a good rhythm.
- If you can, listen to some music. Use music as a distraction from your worry-thoughts by listening to a song.
- Challenge yourself. Challenge yourself to convert anxious feelings into excitement and a sense of readiness. Feel it, rather than think it!