3 Ways Athletes Can Handle Performance Anxiety

3 Ways Athletes Can Handle Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety Is another aspect of sports that an athlete can train to reduce the effects on their performance.

Performance anxiety is a naturally occurring reaction to many athletes in both training and competition. These feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and fear interfere with performance. Many athletes learn to find a way to cope with these feelings.

Performance anxiety in sports, often linked closely to choking, is the decrease of athletic performance due to too much-perceived stress. High expectations of their won success can contribute to their anxiety. This feeling is often influenced by the way athletes interpret the situation. Meaning, the way an athlete’s self-talk describes the situation creates feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. For the athlete, to know the feelings and the physiological reaction of performance anxiety is critical to recovery and prevention of performance anxiety.

Let’s look at three things you can do before the match, during the match, and after the match to deal with performance anxiety.

Before the match:

When you begin to experience these feelings, accept and recognize these feelings. When you avoid anxious feelings, you exhaust resources (such as your focus) quicker than your intended to. Notice these feelings, but do not focus on them.

During the match:

Focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome. Existing in the present moment is where the best performances occur, not when thinking about the outcome of the match. To help with this, focus on your breathing. That focus will pull you back into the present.\

After the match:

Review your performance and take away the positive aspects of your performance. Once you identify those actions. You can reinforce those actions and behaviors that you exhibited in order to increase the likelihood of that desired outcome.

Performance anxiety Is another aspect of sports that an athlete can train to reduce the effects on their performance.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.

I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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My Parting Letter To The Chester Valley Trail Now That The Weather Is Changing And I’m Super Busy

The Chester Valley Trail is very dear to me and not using it every-other day makes me very "saudade"


I had been asleep for 15 hours when my dad shook me awake and thrusted an obnoxiously colored helmet into my face. "Come on pretty," he said sweetly. "Let's go." The intensity of the orange electrified the backs of my eyes and, now--- very awake--- I rose.

This was five years ago.

I remember riding that equally as disturbingly orange bike from the Raymour and Flanigan (where we parked) and back. All that greenery blurring together while my starved muscles struggled to propel me down that level path, the huge splotch of sweat growing on my dad's back like some oily, yellow creature that had latched on after falling from one of the inordinately tall trees looming above us from the swamp. After our ride, mom made burgers (my favorite) and I took a couple bites before going upstairs to sleep.

Cut to this past july---I've woken up at 5:00 am. After my breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and sunny-side-up eggs, I jump onto the trail---the sun /blazing/ in my eyes. Connecting my feet with the pavement in a rhythmic series of taps just audible under my only-for-when-I-run-I-swear-death-metal, my focus glides to the dots of yellow that bejeweled the greenery of midsummer; male canaries bouncing from tree to tree, bunches of daisies lining the path up until the sprawling field of them which stretched on either side of the playground a few miles ahead, and the beams of light passing through vines with the shapely intensity of a flashlight. A couple days a week I ran there like this, but other days I just went for other reasons.

A time in mid-august, for instance, when I got in an ugly fight with my mom. I bought myself a diet soda, put on some retro wave and just walked. I walked till I reached that playground and sat at one of the many wooden picnic tables. I just listened to the buzz of parents talking and children yipping. When a deep pink colored the clouds at sunset, I heard those laughs quickly replaced by the chirps of crickets. At my return home, I was calm, as well as my mother, and we made-up.

There were others, too, and I captured the best of them here:

Shannon Solley

Shannon Solley

This September, though, has been one of estrangement. At first, I had been in denial. Although it was still dark when I usually left for the trail, I ran by the light of my phone. A couple conversations with park rangers later, I started waiting till 6 a.m. to run. As I ran, my feet crunched on leaves and my eyes cringed at the spiderwebs in between the branches where butterflies had once darted. My field of daisies had been mowed, a couple brave survivors missing many if not all their pedals. Worst of all, I heard the same voice quiver the in the back of my head that warned me similarly right before an ugly break-up a couple years back---it's ending. Regardless of these warning signs, I still took pictures, like these, and still loved my trail.

Shannon Solley

Shannon Solley

Then, it all came to a head. Homework started piling up, work hours started, and friends wanted to hang-out more often. I found it easier to run after class---to give my mind space and stretch my body and found it hard to make logical sense of using my trail. Then the rain. And the fog. It feels like West Chester has been set inside a cloud, making it way too slippery to even think about running outside.

Because it means so much to me, I've written this piece to help let go. Although I know it'll be there in the spring, it still feels like losing a friend.

A plus tard mon amie, tu étais mon meilleur amore. Jusque printemps!

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