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Dealing with Competition Anxiety

posted Aug 22, 2015, 12:19 PM by Debbie Sokol
Being a teenager can be tricky. There is school life with things like grades, friends, teachers, and clubs on your plate, on the daily. There’s home life with things like parents, siblings, commitments, expectations, and responsibilities, on the daily. Then there’s sports life, with things like your coach, teammates, workouts, nutrition, practice, and games, on the daily…while trying to mesh school and family in there, in harmony, too.

This is a lot.

And it’s a lot of stuff you may or may not realize you’re frequently dealing with. These things are most often sources of great fun, happiness, and fulfillment in life. But there are times these things can be great sources of anxiety, too. While there are various ways to combat anxiety, a specific type of anxiety that often gets overlooked is something called competition anxiety, and athletes at all levels of sport experience this feeling regularly.

Luckily for high school student-athletes, there are simple things you can start working into your pre-game routine now that can greatly help and show immediate results, while laying a solid groundwork for you in the future.

Deal with competition anxiety through music

Have you seen the commercials for “Beats by Dre” starring Russell Wilson and other famous faces?

While they may simply be major endorsement deals or platforms for exposure, the truth is listening to music before a game or competition can greatly relieve nerves.

Hearing, and therefore feeling, a beat, and repeating words or phrases you know and like, can do a couple of things. It can take you away from the pressure of the moment, and allow your mind to focus on something that feels good. At the same time, depending on the lyrics or the pace of the song, music can get you super hyped and ready for battle. Music is a win-win.

Concentrate on your breathing

It sounds funny, but deep breathing can take practice. It is also one of the absolute most effective ways to handle all types of anxiety – and competition anxiety is no different. While many breathing exercises work best in a quiet space – something that can be hard to find in the time before a game – regularly working on deep breathing can be life changing in how you face nervousness and fears.

In through the nose, out through the mouth, with both hands on your stomach, feeling yourself regulating your breathing. The relaxing physical effect this has on your body will, sometimes immediately, sometimes over time, transfer into positive thoughts in your mind.

Be positive — and talk to yourself

I love mantras! I’ve written about them before. I am such a firm believer in finding words and phrases that mean something and motivate you and using them in competition. Some of my favorites are things like

  • I am stronger than I know.
  • If it was easy, everyone would do it.
  • Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

You can come up with any phrases that motivate you. The important part is to know what helps you deal with competition anxiety, and stick with it. You’ll immediately notice better and more consistent results in your training.

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