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Showing posts from July, 2018

Ways to Deal with Nerves: Gaining Good Game Experience

One reason why athletes get nervous and choke in games is because they are inexperienced with pressure situations in games. If it is their first time playing in a big game, the stage may feel too big for them and they will get nervous. A solution for this is to simply gain more experience with pressure situations in games. However, not all experiences are equal. It needs to be good experience. If you've played well in many big games before and have executed well under pressure before, then you will be more confident in future big games and pressure situations. You will know that you are capable of performing well under pressure and everything will be more familiar and less scary to you. This will greatly reduce your nerves. However, this only happens if you've had good experiences. If you've had bad experiences with big games, you may feel more familiar with the environment, which can help, but the thought of possibly choking again can make you even more nervous. If you ap…

Ways to Deal with Nervousness: Better Self-Talk

Nervousness in games is partially caused by your self-talk. The things you say to yourself, whether out-loud or in your head, influence your emotions, arousal level, and nervousness.

Pressure is somewhat subjective. Pressure situations in games are only pressure situations if you perceive them to be pressure situations. Your perception of pressure is influenced by your self-talk. If you say/think things such as "This is such an important game. I need to win this game," you will feel nervous because the fear of failure scares you. These thoughts are motivating. They make you care and try hard, but they also increase your nervousness. This is usually what you have to deal with when motivating yourself. You have to learn how to motivate yourself while minimizing the nervousness that comes with it. There are other kinds of self-talk that only hurt your performance. They provide mainly nervousness without any real motivation to go along with it. These include thoughts such as &qu…

Ways to Deal with Nervousness: Improving Concentration

Last week I wrote about how breathing and relaxing helps calm nerves and prevents choking. Here is another mental strategy for dealing with nerves: improving concentration. Nerves can be amplified by negative thinking. Thoughts such as “I’m about to lose right now,” “If I make another mistake, I’m going to look so bad,” and “Everyone is watching me. Please don’t embarrass yourself” makes athletes nervous.  The ongoing inner dialogue, or self-talk can sometimes seem impossible to stop,  but it can be stopped. Concentrating completely on the present moment stops thinking altogether. You can’t think and focus entirely on the present moment at the same time. It is meditation. With your negative self-talk cut off, your nervousness has no more fuel and it dies down. So when you feel nervous, try to focus on the present moment. This can be done by focusing on your breathing, the bouncing of a ball, or something else that is actively going on in the present moment. This is very important to d…

Ways to Deal with Nervousness: Breathe and Relax

My last two posts dealt with the technical and strategic ways that you can deal with nervousness. Those ways are more like compromises since they don’t directly help you get back into a peak performance mindset. In the next few posts, I will write about things you can do mentally to help settle your nerves and get back into a peak performance mindset.

 One of the easiest things to do to deal with nerves is to simply take deep breaths and try to relax your muscles. We’ve all heard coaches tell players to relax when they’re nervous. What does that exactly mean? Well some of the symptoms of nerves/choking are tight muscles and shallow breathing. This causes your movements to be awkward and weak as well as making you tired faster. These symptoms are a sign that your conscious mind is trying to control your motor skills, which is not good. This is the main reason why athletes choke (mistakes caused by nervousness). The conscious mind is not as good as the unconscious mind at controlling lea…

Ways to Deal with Nervousness: High Percentage Strategies

Last week I wrote about changes that you can make to your technique to deal with nervousness and choking. But there are also strategic changes that you can make to prevent choking under pressure. Like I’ve said before, ideally an athlete plays with peak performance and overcomes nervousness and is able to play with their normal technique and strategy. However, this is not always possible. Sometimes athletes let their nerves get to them. By this time, it may be too hard to calm down and relax. In these cases, it is sometimes better to accept your nerves and make strategic changes to prevent choking. Doing this means simply choosing higher percentage shots and decisions in games. If nervousness makes it harder to execute, why make things harder by attempting difficult, low percentage shots? Why not just attempt easier, higher percentage shots? Even while being nervous, you can still be confident of making these shots. Remember, when pressure rises, it is fine motor skills that are affec…