Nervousness and Choking

Pressure can hurt your performance because it can make you too nervous. Nerves can make your body tight and cause you try too hard instead of just “letting it rip.” So why don’t we just stop being nervous so we can play better? It’s not that simple. First of all, nervousness is necessary. It shows you care and are motivated. We need to be motivated to play well. But can’t we be highly motivated without being nervous? Sometimes, but this is very difficult to do in certain situations. The thought of failing and what failing means to us, makes us nervous, and it is very hard to eliminate all thoughts of failure entirely.


Embarrassment, or making ourselves look bad is a big source of our nervousness. We are scared of making mistakes because we fear looking bad. This is because humans are social beings, who care deeply about self-esteem and social hierarchy. So nervousness is something we can’t completely control, we can only contain it. Every professional athlete in the history of sports has dealt with nervousness, because they are all humans with the same human insecurities. No athlete is truly a “cold-blooded assassin” all the time. The best athletes that you see on TV are not super humans. They are not immune to nervousness. They just seem like they are because they work very hard in practice so they can trust their skills in games. They still feel pressure but they know how to manage it and control their arousal level.

So the next time you feel nervous before a match, or choke on match point, don’t believe you are a terrible competitor, or a  “choker.”  Know that nervousness and choking are natural, and they can be managed. You will always feel nervousness and choke at times, but with practice, you will be able to manage nervousness better than the average athlete. Learning and practicing the skills of peak performance will help you contain your nervousness and perform better. Throughout this blog, I will continue to teach these mental skills and attitudes. But for now, just remember that nervousness and choking are natural but can also be contained. Just by knowing this, you  will be able to contain your nervousness better.

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