Gothenburg, SWEDEN: Greece’s Fani Halkia looks dejected after winning silver in the Women’s 400m Hurdles final at the 19th European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, 09 August 2006. Russia’s Yevgeniya Isakova won ahead of Greece’s Fani Halkia and Ukraine’s Tetyana Tereshchuk-Antipova. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Are you good at sports? This God-given talent has made many people famous, earning millions from it. Everybody would like to gain financial freedom from doing something they love. Being an athlete comes with its share of difficulties. Having the whole world look up to you to win them a medal causes stress and anxiety in athletes. This is what makes some of them get banned out of seeking better performance by abusing drugs.
You may be the kind that performs excellently during rehearsal but freezes at the real competition. This is caused by stress that works on your nerves hindering you from giving your best. We will discuss how stress affects your performance and better coping with anxiety to improve your overall well-being.
The relationship between stress and athletic performance
Winning in any contest starts from the mind. Sports psychologists say that your perception determines your performance. Too many eyes may make you freak out and cause fear before you start running. The thought that people have high expectations may add more pressure since you don’t want to disappoint them. How you interpret the situation in your mind affects how you move. Jitters in an athlete come due to negative self-talk that develops from within. Doubting yourself as you wonder if you will get past fellow athletes instills fear that may hold you back.
A past injury can also make you less confident in the field as it affects your emotions. Athletes who have suffered injuries may experience anger, denial, and depression. Such are prone to methods such as self-medication to feel better about going back to what they love. Since an injury affects your mental skills, therapy is an essential step to emotional healing.
How to cope with anxiety in sports
Before the event
Know that even the most talented athletes experience nervousness. This should come as a consolation to help you understand that your body is naturally preparing for a race. Ensure that you practice enough so that you can feel confident and fight the nervousness. If you are racing in a new field, look at the course map to know what to expect. This makes you ready for the race and helps you calm down.
Mental and physical preparation
Get to the field before others and start warming up for the race. Do some stretches for your body to get ready. Ensure that you bring everything you need for your comforts, such as an extra pair of comfortable shoes and a jacket if it gets chilly. Do not let any prohibited substances be part of your preparation. If you have been using drugs to get you ready for a race, it is time you stopped this habit since it is addictive. Visit https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/local-rehab-resources/colorado/colorado-springs/ so that you can get help and go back to your game.
Do not start a race without a plan. Take some time to come up with techniques that help you avoid distractions from fellow competitors. You can decide, for instance, to focus your attention on one point so that you reduce anxiety. Prior practice will help you implement the best strategy for the field. For example, some athletes prefer to move faster than increase it in the last round. Visualize ways of implementing such a strategy to perform well.
Scientists say that the way you imagine a situation is related to how you handle it. Visualizing, therefore, gives you a new way of looking at the competition and boosts your confidence. Work on any negative attitude that may be making you tense by declaring that you will win no matter what.
During the event
Do not overthink
While looking at the price is good, overthinking it and not focusing on getting the price may make you lose concentration. Move with your rhythm and listen to your heartbeat so that you can stay at the moment without over-obsessing about the finish line.
Your fans may have traveled across nations to see you perform. Smile back at them as they call your name so that you don’t feel pressured to win. This mechanism acts on your moods and keeps you psyched up for the race. It also drives away the negative thoughts that may be causing fear.
In as much as people may want you to win, ensure that you have fun at the race. Stop worrying about what number you will be and enjoy the moment because not everybody is privileged to do it. Remember to breathe as you enjoy your game so that pressure does not make you lose your breath. This mentality will make you come out of that nervous state and motivate you to move faster.
After the event
Review your performance
Think of a move that you did right and the thoughts that pushed you harder. Implement the same actions the next time you are in the field.
Learn from what you did wrong
Reflect on a move that you may have done wrong so that you can work harder during rehearsal to improve your racing skills. Do not let your mishaps, however, put you down no matter the outcome of the race.
Instead of training alone, join a group of serious racers in a club to get more motivation to train. You can also look for a coach to help you perfect your skills. Trainers push us harder to be better versions of ourselves. Do not feel the pinch to pay for someone with more experience in the field than you.
Even if physical skills make great athletes, emotional skills should not be overlooked. This part is left for athletes to figure out independently, causing difficulties when one cannot keep their emotions in check. That is why some use unhealthy measures to handle this kind of stress. Implement the tactics outlined during each stage of the competition so that you can improve your performance as you cope with anxiety. Remember that the outcome starts in your mind. Good luck!