Head Game

Turn Performance Anxiety into Positive Energy

Head Game

Do you perform well during training or practice but choke in competition? Pre-race jitters are common among athletes. Whether you are a newcomer to your sport or a seasoned veteran, this phenomenon can get the better of you.

Sometimes referred to as choking, it will inevitably diminish your ability to perform at your best. Athletes choke on game day because they have an audience or they have extremely high expectations of their success. The way in which the athlete talks to themself and how they interpret their situation will either add to, or reduce, their anxiety.

A certain amount of tension or jitters can be beneficial. Each athlete’s jitters baseline is different, so the key is knowing the level at which you perform best. Too much anxiety or tension can cause sleep disturbances, increased heart rate, digestive issues, irritability and negative selftalk, all of which adversely affect your performance. However, the opposite is true as well, being too relaxed will inhibit an athlete’s performance.

Anxiety itself is not the problem. Learning how to use this adrenaline to your advantage, to power your performance, is critical in turning anxiety from a liability into an asset. Some simple mental training tips will allow this process to unfold.

Focusing on your head game will unlock your full potential as an athlete. In order to have a peak performance, your mental training needs to match your physical training. An energized mind will focus beyond the impossible to achieve the possible. You may be an amateur athlete or you may be a professional, but one thing is certain, all athletes share the same potential.

Got a sport psychology question? Send it to momentumsportcoaching@gmail.com – we would be happy to answer it.

4 Mental Training Tips

“The man who has no imagination, has no wings.” – Muhammed Ali

    1. Recognize that pre-race jitters and the adrenaline rush you feel are normal and positive. Accept it. Don’t dwell on it. These feelings will pass once the race starts and the adrenaline will fuel your performance.
    2. Visualize yourself doing it right. By doing this, you are creating a positive image in your mind to set an intention. Use your imagination to create your reality. We use visualization all the time, but most often it is negative because we imagine the worst case scenario.
    3. Listen to your inner voice. Is it negative or positive? Negative self talk will adversely affect your performance. Reframe your statements into the positive. Replace, “I feel psyched out by my competition,” with “I can do this, I have trained hard and I am going to race my best.”
    4. Race with abandon, as though you don’t care about the outcome. By focusing only on the present moment, you will quickly get your head back in the game. Perceived stress and dwelling on mistakes prevent an athlete from getting in that zone where they can perform at their best. Being in the moment leaves no room for doubt, only positive action. When you focus on only what you need to do right now, your score, result or time will take care of itself.


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