Coping with Pregame Anxiety

How to Stay Relaxed before a Competition

“I feel like I’m going to be sick to my stomach.” Have you ever had this feeling prior to a competition?

Have you ever been so anxious that you feel physically sick in the locker room before a game or competition?

For some athletes, this feeling repeats itself as they carry it into each competition.

This anxiety can hurt your performance because it leads to performing tight and scared. And some athletes burn themselves out because they are nervous days before a competition.

Overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affects all aspects of your athletic experience from training, sleep, pregame eating, competitive performance and simply the enjoyment of your sport.

Not only does overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affect competitive performance, it can manifest itself in frequent physical illnesses.

Maybe you feel you are the only athlete experiencing this type of overwhelming pre-competition anxiety, but it happens to athletes at every competitive level including Olympic, professional, collegiate, high school and youth athletes.

Many athletes become so disappointed and frustrated because they train and practice at a high level but seem incapable of translating those efforts to competition because of this overwhelming anxiety. After a while, you question whether it is even worth being an athlete.

Pregame jitters can turn into full-blown pregame anxiety if you haven’t learned how to manage your nerves.

Many athletes deal with this condition by seeking out the assistance of mental performance coaches to assist in overcoming anxiety with great success.

Working with a mental game coach can help you regain control over that anxiety and help you compete with the type of confidence that produces positive results that generate feelings of pride and personal satisfaction.

NFL Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks of the Philadelphia Eagles has experienced this high anxiety prior to games.

BROOKS: “Before every game, I throw up. I can’t stop thinking about letting my team down, letting the world down, the microscope being on me… All of a sudden you’re becoming the guy, everyone counting on me, and I’ve got to make the play every time. In this game, the talent gap is so small, to think like that will eat you up.’’

Brooks sought out help and is mentally tougher because of it. In 2018, Brooks stated that overcoming his anxiety was his biggest victory during that season.

BROOKS: “But the thing that I’m most proud of is, I played all 16 games without having anxiety, without missing a game. That was my biggest goal. I’m more confident in myself than I’ve ever been. I’m more secure than I’ve ever been.’’

Brooks is evidence that you CAN manage your pre-competition anxiety level, no matter what is the root of the anxiety.. You CAN perform at a high level again… And you CAN regain that joy for your sport.

Coping with Pregame Anxiety:

Focus on your pregame warm up routine. Within your routine, use deep breathing, tighten and release, listen to music with noise cancelling headphones, or calming visualization or meditation.

Avoid thinking about outcomes and the aftermath of the competition.

Most worry is about negative outcomes and what others might think of your performance. You can’t care about what others think if you want to perform freely without fear.

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The Relaxed Athlete

Relaxed athlete

The ability to relax and play your game under pressure is what separates the winner from the loser in any competition. Champion athletes train hard in practice, are motivated for the right reasons, and are able to raise their game in crunch-time with two minutes remaining in the game..

A relaxed and confident performance begins in the mind! When you are mentally prepared to compete, you can have an optimal level of intensity AND poise!

The Relaxed Athlete program is ideal for any athlete that wants to overcome pregame anxiety, worry, or excess tension and learn to perform with poise. It’s also ideal for any coach or parent who wants to teach athletes to perform with poise and relaxation in competition.

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