Do You Get Too Nervous?
7 Tips for Staying Cool & Calm in the Clutch
The BIGGEST secret to you playing your best when it counts the most is learning how to keep yourself CALM and COMPOSED. If you allow yourself to get too nervous or too excited right before or during a competition, then your muscles will tighten up, you’ll lose your confidence and your play will go right down the tubes! This is what it means to CHOKE! The athlete gets so nervous that he/she ends up performing tight and tentatively — a mere shadow of his or her normal self!
The real cause of out-of-control nervousness
Runaway pre-game nervousness can come from a lot of different sources: how good your opponents are; how big and aggressive they are; how important a competition is; how big the crowd is (and who in it is watching you); whether you’ll play well today and win; how “excited” your coach may get; how much playing time you’ll get; the court, field or arena you’re playing in — the list goes on and on.
While there are many things about your competitions that can potentially make you nervous, the true cause of your performance-disrupting nervousness isn’t any of the things that I’ve just mentioned above. The real cause of your out-of-control nerves is you! That’s right! YOU make YOURSELF nervous!
What I’m saying here is very important — It’s not what’s happening around or outside of you that makes you nervous. It’s what’s happening INSIDE that is the real cause of stress!
Here’s what I mean: It’s not the size, skill level or reputation of your opponents that makes you nervous. It’s what you say to yourself about them in the days, hours and minutes leading up to the game, match or race that’s the real culprit in sending your heart rate and blood pressure through the roof! Nervousness is always caused by our inner response to the things that are going on outside of us. But here’s the good news about that: If YOU make yourself nervous, then YOU have the ability to change your inner response to calm yourself down under competitive pressure.
Most players who get too nervous to play well do so because of what they focus on and think about as the game approaches. They worry about how well they’ll play, how fast and skilled their opponents are, whether their team will win or lose, what people may think or say about them, etc. Focusing on any or all of these things will guarantee that your stress level will go through the attic and your play will get stuck in the cellar! To stay calm under pressure, you must learn to go into competitions with a completely different headset and focus. I’ve called this proper headset a “CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAN.”
A championship game plan is a series of little mental goals that you want to bring into the performance with you. If you follow this game plan, it will guarantee that you’ll stay calm and relaxed when you perform. Remember, playing your best when it counts the most is all about being loose right before and during your competitions.