The symptoms of performance anxiety can often be seen in athletes. While some athletes become “pumped up” throughout the competition, if you construe the rush of adrenaline as anxiety – and then negative thoughts take over – this can interfere with your ability to perform well during your meet.
Performance anxiety in sports, which is sometimes referred to as “choking”, is described as a decrease in athletic performance due to too much-perceived stress. Perceived stress frequently increases in athletes on game day as:
- They have an audience, and
- They have very high expectations of their success.
This type of stress is often based on the way in which the athletes interpret the situation. It is seldom the external situation which causes stress, but instead the way in which the athlete’s self-talk explains the situation which creates feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.
What Is Sports Psychology?
The term ‘sport psychology’ refers to a division of psychology which is aimed at better getting the mind of an athlete ready for competition. Most of the sport psychologists work with athletes in order to help them beat anxiety about performance throughout competitions.
Anxiety before or during athletic competitions could affect with your achievements as an athlete. The synchronised movement required by athletic events becomes more and more difficult when your body is in a stressful state. While a particular level of awareness is helpful, and gets us ready for competition, when the physical indications of anxiety are too great, they may really hamper with your ability to compete.
Negative thought patterns as well as expectations of failure can bring about a self-fulfilling prediction. If there is a significant difference between how you fare during practice, and then how you do during competitions, anxiety could be affecting your performance.
Pre-Event Solutions To Help With Performance Anxiety
The following are useful, pre-event strategies in order to reduce performance anxiety.
Recognise That Pre-Race Jitters Are Normal
Accept, as opposed to fight, the nervous energy which you are feeling. Don’t misunderstand it by thinking that it is fear. That adrenaline rush which you are feeling is normal. It is part of your body’s natural groundwork for the competition. Pay attention to it however don’t focus on it. Once the race starts, that feeling will abate as it always does.
Prepare Both Mentally As Well As Physically
Arrive at the event with a lot of time so you aren’t rushed. This only increases your stress. Get a thorough warm-up. Do some simple stretching. Know the course. Dress for conditions.
In the days leading up to the event, allow a few minutes to practise visualisation. During this time, you mentally rehearse, demonstrating to yourself that you’re doing everything right. Breathe easy, close your eyes and then use mental imagery in order to visualise yourself doing well.
This positive self-talk can alter your attitude. While athletes need to be flexible enough in order to react to the event, you should enter the event with an overall strategy of how you would like to race. Your strategy can be straightforward as maintaining a steady pace or a steady heart rate. It can also be complex. Visualisation is also a great tool to play out different potential scenarios which may take place during the actual event or competition.
If you would like to discover additional information regarding helping athletes to overcome performance anxiety then you should become a sports psychologist with us and our Sports Psychology Course. For more information, please follow this link.