As an athlete, no matter what age or level of intensity, we deal with nerves, anxiety and pressure when it comes to the big game. Believe it or not, feeling nervous before a big game is normal! We put so much hard work and dedication into our sports, all we want is for the hard work to pay off on game day.
My high school coach would always tell me, “If you aren’t nervous, you don’t care about what you are about to do. The key is to recognize those nerves and turn it into confidence”. He was right, I cared so much about my sport that I let it hold me back. It wasn’t until I followed these three tips that I turned nerves and anxiety into confidence when it mattered most:
Tip #1: Focus on Doing Your Best
Most athletes feel as though the goal of a game, match or competition is to win. Sometimes, this just isn’t the case and focusing on winning causes nerves and pressure. It is impossible to win every game you will ever play.
Having a goal and a competitive desire to win is perfectly normal, but every time you step onto the field or court, you should focus on simply doing your best. Getting the “W’s” will come if you play hard and do your best. Even when the score reflects that you lost, if you step away from the game knowing that you’ve given it everything you had, you’ve won. When you focus on doing your best, you will feel confident in the game you are playing.
Tip #2: Don’t Fear Failure
When there is a lack of confidence, fear usually is present. Unfortunately, fear is a powerful emotion and if you let it take over it will keep you from playing your game to the best of your ability.
You may miss shots, allow a turnover or let a goal be scored. The best athletes know that they will not be 100% perfect from start to finish. You will never fail as long as you have confidence in your ability and you never give up.
Tip #3: Reflect on Your Practices
Nerves, pressure and anxiety come from irrational fears. It is not uncommon that you may have thoughts such as, “I am not good enough”, “I don’t belong here”, “Everyone is relying on me”, or “I am not prepared for this”. I haven’t met an athlete yet who hasn’t had any of these thoughts on game day. When these thoughts flood in, stop yourself and remember all the practice you have put in. Remember every good practice you and your teammates have had together and know that it has prepared you for the game! Once you do this, confidence will come pouring in!
Following these three tips allowed me to push aside all of my nerves and all of the pressure I felt before competing. I remembered every good practice I had, focused on doing my best and was not afraid of failure. I became a confident athlete, reached my full potential and enjoyed every moment of my athletic career!
Follow these tips and be your most confident self on game day! For more tips and tricks from SI Play, go here.
Courtney, SI Play