Anxiety in sport
All athletes want to win, be important and decisive on the field, and develop and become the best in their sport. That level of ambition is fine, but it's just unrealistic to achieve without bumbs and setbacks on the road. Sometimes these bumbs become a nightmare for the athlete.
This can be, for example, when the nervousness and anxiety takes control of the athlete - during periods when performance is poorer than what the athlete's level usually are.
During these down periods, of course, there will be games that are not super good, and there will be more errors than usual when the athlete is in flow and believes in himself.
To a large extent, this can mean that the athlete suddenly not only thinks that they have failed, but that they feel like a failure and that they do not come out of these thoughts again.
For some athletes, it becomes so detrimental that it becomes the only part of their everyday lives. They take the sport, and thus the mistakes and failures home and then take it into their identity. They are therefore hugely adversely affected as humans when performance on the field fails. For many, this can initiate a negative direction / period in which they become over-focused on the “problem”.
It is typically here that the athlete find themselves trapped in that he / she cannot relax on match days or even the days before. That they lose their appetite, that they lose their joy and their natural attitude in the present moment, because they are affected by the past negative games, and fear that they will repeat themselves.
A hard difference is that the performance is not at all about the most important thing, namely development and learning about the mistakes, but instead a constant fear of the discomfort they associate with e..g. the tennis match or handball match.
It is not unusual for the athletes to cry, be sad, and not at all associate any kind of joy with the fantastic opportunity it really is to play competitive matches.
This fear can / will also manifest in some degrees in performance anxiety, panic attacks and stress.
All in all, the power of nervousness can become an unhealthy performance-limiting mental stage for the athlete.
There are many aspects of the human mind that influence athletes development as an elite player. There are both positive and negative aspects. There is tremendous pressure on the individual athlete, and we all deal with this individually. So who achieves the most in sports? It is not the athlete who has the best, happiest and most positive thoughts. It is not the athlete who does not get nervous and pressured.
Can you get rid of nervousness, anxiety and distractions so that they do not affect you in the match?
YES. This is exactly what we are working on in the mental training performance process. The one who reaches the most in sports are also the ones who dares to acknowledge and work on the inner mental struggles. The one who reaches the most in sports is the one who has learned to perform despite their inner struggles.
When you learn to become comfortable in the uncomfortable, you can be the top performer on match days!
And then you expand your performance potential and your performance comfort zone. Mental training and sports psychology work are the way forward for athletes who want to top their careers.
Nervousness must be dealt with
The most important thing about nervousness is what you do when you get nervous - how do you react, how are you, how do you act, what do you do etc.
Next, it is crucial that you do something active (pro-actively) to deal with anxiety and nervousness, to be yourself and the best version of you while you are nervous.
Do you hope that performance anxiety and nervousness goes away on its own and suddenly you will never be affected in your performance again?
If this is the case then there is a guarantee that you will be disappointed again. Because nervousness does not just go away, and you have not learned from a crucial and inevitable situation, so you are mentally prepared for the next time it occurs - and there will always be a next time.
Many have the idea that the better an athlete becomes and the more the athlete achieves in their career, the less he / she must have of pressure, nervousness and negative thoughts. That's just not the case.
From youth to pro
As the athlete gets better and takes the step from talent to professional, both internal and external expectations increases. But does the athlete not get better at dealing with nervousness, pressures, lack of confidence and difficult times? Some do, but it's far from everyone.
Common to those who reach the peak point in their careers is that they perform and act, regardless of whether they face pressure, adversity and nervousness. They have a clear focus on their goals, and struggle to achieve them.
When the nervousness begins to announce its arrival it has is the risk of becoming the athletes own worst enemy.
The voice of the devil on the shoulder risks getting louder and louder to eventually fill it all and affect your performance.
Mental strength is that you can stay on and with your gameplan and not give in to your inner mental challenges.
With mental training, you develop your mental skills which helps you to be better prepared to perform in the inevitable pressures and discomforts that come within the world of sports. If you are interested in the opportunity to start a mental training course, you are more than welcome to book a non-binding call with us.
Article written by Henrik Hjarsbæk from HH Mentality