3 Strategies for Overcoming Sports Performance Anxiety

Of all of the extracurricular activities that college students participate in, few are as popular as sports. The NCAA reported that the number of sports teams reached a new high in 2014, with nearly 20,000 participating across the country. While many students can benefit from sports programs, some face the troubling issue of performance anxiety. Fear and being unable to focus during a sporting event is a common problem, and if you find yourself battling performance anxiety before or during a game, there are several ways you can help yourself overcome it.

1.     Identify Self-Defeating Habits

While sports performance anxiety can be hard to control, you may have developed habits that nurture it without even knowing it. Some of these habits can be self-defeating and sabotage you before you practice or participate in an event, such as failing to properly warm up, comparing yourself to other athletes, and allowing yourself to become distracted by what is going on around you.

To banish anxiety, identify these habits and work to defeat them by practicing exercise routines that nurture a greater focus on your physical and mental health and allow you to understand that your personal goals may not be on par with other athletes on your team. The more you work to understand your own state of mind, the less often you might make these comparisons, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety.

2.     Visualize a Positive Result

Adelphi reports that nearly 30 million people attended college sporting events in 2015, and a stadium full of fans who want you to win for your team can cause a significant amount of anxiety. This can result in a loss of focus and you may not play to the best of your ability. However, there is a way to dampen this type of anxiety, and that is to visualize a positive outcome. Whether you visualize winning the game or playing to your personal best, this can help you reduce the anxiety of overcoming perceived failures in the past.

To illustrate this point, imagine you are a quarterback for your university’s football team and threw two interceptions the previous game. Focusing on those interceptions instead of the upcoming game will only cause the fear of failing again to increase. However, if you were to focus on the near future and visualize not throwing any interceptions, chances are that you will be more successful because any anxiety that is created by the past might be reduced.

3.     Practice Meditation

Adelphi offers an online mshi program that helps to educate its participants in treating a variety of patients, including college athletes who have been injured during gameplay. Since some of these injuries can result from a lack of proper warmup or poor focus due to performance anxiety, it is important that you do all you can to alleviate it, such as practicing meditation. Simple techniques, such as breathing exercises and those that work to increase your focus may increase your gameplay readiness and reduce the risk of injury.

Sports performance anxiety can have negative effects on how well you play and cause you to become increasingly preoccupied with how it makes you feel physically. However, practicing relaxation and focus techniques can help you banish anxiety and help you realize your athletic potential.

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