It’s game time. Your toe is to the line, and you’re positioned at a standstill, waiting for the whistle to blow as the signal to start. You’re calm, focused, and ready to attack. 

Getting to this point in competition requires a different type of training that prepares your mind for battle. Having nerves before competition is normal and managing them properly is a learned skill. When you have a game or competition coming up, you can get feelings of nervousness which can cloud your judgement and hinder performance.  This is also known as sports performance anxiety. 

Running laps, hitting shots, and lifting weights are all part of the physical aspect of training that prepares your body for optimal performance in a competition scenario. Training your mind as well as training your body during practices allows your body to take over during competition, similar to a “flow” state, and perform optimally.

Now the question becomes, how do you train your mind to be a superior competitor in sports? Some athletes have a keen ability to zone in when it’s game time, whereas others, who may appear to have just as much talent, struggle to execute their skills to the same ability under pressure. The biggest difference is the mental game. We rounded up some of the best advice from Sport Fuels Life coaches on how to overcome sports performance anxiety:

  1. Practice mindfulness

Paying attention to your thoughts and attitudes will make a stronger impact on your ability to play at a high level. Notice your thoughts before and during practice; that helps identify weak spots to address before actual competition. Have simple relaxation techniques ready to use.

  1. Practice competing

You don’t have to compete in just the sport you play. Use competition opportunities with other games or challenges to put yourself in win-or-lose scenarios. You can practice your mentality in these scenarios. That builds your ability when it’s time to compete in your sport. 

  1. Key word is practice.  Show up, do the work, and enjoy the process.

Putting in the hours of training is what gets you started. Repetition builds confidence, which will help prepare you for game day. The more confident you are in your skill, the easier it will be to perform under pressure.

Stress is part of life and sports.  Managing it is the key so you can focus. Have a plan to compete physically and mentally so you know what’s needed to perform your best. Most importantly, have fun—that also helps you relax!