Strategies for Overcoming Sports Anxieties
Do you become “nervous” before you compete? Does anxiety hold you back from playing your best game?
Anxiety or worry is a common concern for many soccer players. Not only does anxiety affect the level of your play, it takes the fun out of playing.
Anxiety was the problem area of an athlete who responded to our Soccer Survey:
“Why do I always get so anxious before a game that I feel sick or lightheaded? How can I overcome this?”
Anxiety, more specifically performance anxiety, is based in fear or apprehension about what’s to come or what might or might not happen. The effects of performance anxiety have profound physical and mental consequences before and during soccer games.
Think of test anxiety, for example…
You studied for hours the night before, but you are not sure if you studied the right material. You wonder, “What if the topics I studied are not on the test? What if I don’t finish the test in the allotted amount of time? What if I don’t get a good grade?”
The fear of getting a bad grade, your teacher looking down upon you, your parents comparing you to your siblings, your fear of not getting into a good college can cause you to freeze during a test and interfere with your ability to think clearly and recall information while taking the test.
The anxiety you experience before and during games follows a similar path. Even though you feel you are in top shape and haven’t missed practice, fear and ‘what if’s’ dominate your mind. What if I make a mistake? What if I lose the game for my team? What if I let down my coach?
Your fears about the unknown generate worry and anxiety. Your fears trigger physical symptoms such as: rapid shallow breathing, quickened heart rate, muscle tension and sluggishness. These symptoms contribute to your lightheadedness.
To make matters worse, when you focus on these physical symptoms, you create even more fear, more anxiety making it harder to break out of this cycle and focus on playing at your peak.
It’s also important to identify situations that trigger your anxiety and the early warning signs such as racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, tightness in your chest, racing thoughts and inability to concentrate).
Being aware of your symptoms can serve as an early detection system.
Identifying your warning signs can help you counter the effects of anxiety with specific relaxing or refocusing strategies.
You can learn to master your thoughts and emotions if you commit to your mental game.
Coping with Pregame Nervousness
Master your breathing — Being in control of your breathing will help you conserve your energy, help to calm you, and focus on something positive.
Take 1-3 slow controlled deep breaths when you feel your anxiety level build before games and during game breaks while on the field.
Inhale 1-2-3-4-5, Exhale 1-2-3-4-5. Focus on your breathing when you can. If you are on the field, quickly turn your attention to the game situation.
Deep breathing is a quick way to relax and refocus. But please note that most anxiety is about your performance and worry about what others might think about your performance.
Identifying your source of performance anxiety can help you cope better.
Discover Mental Game Secrets to Soccer Confidence!
Does your confidence seem to disappear when you go from practice to games?
Do you get nervous and anxious in big games or when under a ton of pressure?
Do you get so frustrated after making a bad pass that your confidence sinks?
If you are ready to improve your mental toughens and perform with ultimate self-confidence in games, check out our program:
Learn proven strategies to improve focus, composure and confidence so you can perform at your peak in games!
- Players: Get the mental edge by learning how to take control of your confidence, mentally prepare for games and perform with composure under pressure.
- Trainers: Learn how to give your students the mental game advantage.
- Coaches: Boost your team’s confidence using simple proven mental strategies.
- Parents: Help boost your soccer player’s confidence. Don’t let their mind hold them back any longer.
Learn the top eight mental game lessons for soccer players to boost your mental game and improve consistency. You’ll learn how to mentally prepare for games to performing under pressure to building unstoppable confidence!
What are our mental game program customers saying?
With the mental tools my soccer mental training program has given me, I can say with full confidence I am on my way of signing a better professional contract.”
~ Lucas Gonzales, Professional Soccer Player in Australia
“Dr. Cohn, Michelle had the best weekend of soccer she has ever played. She was relaxed, did not get frustrated with herself or teammates, and never once ‘shut down.’ Numerous parents noticed a difference in her composure and attitude. Thanks again for EVERYTHING…Michelle is in a very good place right now!”
~Diana, Michelle’s Mother