Self-Intimidation for Athletes

Why Athletes Feel Intimidated

Do you or your athletes feel intimidated when competing against top competition? Or do you see it as a challenge to embrace?

Against top-tier competitors, are you able to rise to the occasion or do you question your ability to perform well?

I’ve worked with many athletes over the years that focus too much on the competition and thus become self-intimidated. Yes, playing against a rival or a high ranked opponent can be stressful, but doesn’t have to be!

Nerves can be elevated when playing tough competition because you are left alone with your thoughts and play out worst case scenarios in your mind.

One athlete in our survey requested help with the issue or difficulty of playing against tough competition:

“How do I play without feeling intimidated or self-conscious around top competitors?”

Here are the most common ways you might feel intimidated…

  • You compare your skills to your competitors’ skills and feel inferior.
  • You fear you might embarrass yourself is you lose badly to the competition.
  • You build up the competition in your mind and think, “I have no chance.”
  • You focus too much on the wins and record of your opponents and feel you can never stack up.

Sound familiar?

Feeling intimidated or self-conscious can happen at all levels of sports–even the pros!

But no one is trying to intimidate you. You do it all on your own by focusing on the talents and record of your competitors.

It is not possible to focus on two different things at the same time, such as your opponent and your game. Focus is a one-or-the-other prospect.

The focus you choose affects three things:

  1. How you feel
  2. What you think
  3. And thus how well you perform

Focusing on a competitor who is an idol will create feelings of anxiety, intimidation and fear. You can’t perform your best when you are focused on opponents’ strengths and records.

Overcoming Self-Intimidation:

How will you ever beat someone you idolize if you think you can’t? You first have to open the door by thinking anything is possible in sports.

Don’t build up opponents in your mind to the expense of your confidence! Be sure not to compare your skills, experience, or record to your opponent’s. This is a sure way to feel intimidated and lose confidence.

Instead focus on your unique talents. What strengths do you bring to the game? What advantages do you have as an athlete?

It might also help to think about a simple concept I teach my athletes: think “nameless and numberless.” Don’t attach a name or number to your opponents. Instead, think that they are human too and put on their equipment one leg at a time–just like you!

Embrace the challenge of testing your skills against quality competition!

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