We’ve all heard the concept of choking in competition. Commonly it happens due to nerves, anxiety and even fear. It’s a pressure you put on yourself and high expectations could lead to bad performance, especially when it counts most. It’s also commonly known as performance anxiety. We take a closer look at this concept and offer some advice…
The perceived stress you face in competition could come from performing in front of a crowd or due to expectations you place on yourself to perform extremely well. The positive side of perceived stress is exactly that… it’s superficial and therefore you can change it.
By modifying, adjusting or controlling stress through mental practice means you could overcome performance anxiety as a result of high expectations.
Here are a few tips to reduce performance anxiety
Prepare physically as well as mentally. Before any event, ensure you physically prepare by warming up, etc., but do that mentally too. Note your nerves, anxiety or fears, but don’t focus on them. Practice mindfulness in sport.
Visualize. This is the practice of mentally recreating the experience by making use of information that is stored in your memory.
Stay positive. Negative thoughts could breed negative results. Break a smile and see what a difference it will make to your mind-set.
Don’t focus on the outcome, but rather on the experience. No competition is truly the most important day of your life, so relax and enjoy what you clearly love doing.
Don’t over-analyse what needs to be done. Read our feature on analysis paralysis in sport and how to avoid it.
Change up your training. Try getting yourself into an environment which is closer to the competition environment you’ll possibly face. If you train alone but compete with people around you, make an effort to train in a group environment.
Analyse your experience afterwards and note how you felt and what emotions effected you in different ways.
So, before high expectations lead to bad performance, get to grip with the scenario and how you can beat it, and always perform at your best!