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How to avoid getting intimidated in competitions? |23 April 2022

What is the main reason for an athlete to get intimidated in competition?

It has to do with concentration. When you make a very common mistake and focus on your opponent for example during warm-up. You start thinking about your reputation, opponent’s size and level of their skills. There is no better strategy to get you intimidated.

So the question is how to learn to control your focus. This mental muscle is a skill you can get really good at to keep your focus on yourself and the way you will do it is very simple.


How to do it?

  • First you have to be aware when your focus goes to your opponent’s action and you are not performing to your usual standard. That will allow you to refocus on your own action.
  • Do not change your routine before and during the competition.
  • Retain control over what you can control, this has to do with your attitude and your actions. Keep control on things in your ability, the rest let it go.
  • Remove all judgments on how you see your opponent and also how you feel about yourself. Control your action and attitude, it will make things easier for you during competition.
  • Be aware when those critical thoughts start to come up, replace them with some positive ones. Redirect your energy on a positive one, it’s a very good thing.
  • An athlete should not be spending time thinking about his/her opponent, that’s a bad strategy. You have to keep focusing on yourself, when your focus drifts to somewhere else bring it back to you. If you don’t control your focus, that will cause your stress level to go high up the ceiling and your muscles will get tighten up, and you will not be performing at your best.

The interesting thing about getting intimidated is nobody can do it for you. You will actually intimidate yourself by allowing your focus to go to someone else.

Train yourself starting today to keep your focus on you. Be on top at any time, if your focus drifts off just bring your focus on your game plan and within yourself.


Be careful of what you cannot control in your sport

In your sport, there are a lot of factors directly out of your control. Examples are the outcome, weather, the playing condition or officiating.

Before and during the competition you cannot allow your focus to go to things that you cannot directly control. However, you can manifest a lot of emotions. You will be getting flooded with negative thinking, and self-doubt which can bring your performance down. The uncontrollable are basically mental traps; they are laying and waiting for you. If you can learn to recognise where those mental traps are, then you are in a position to avoid them. You cannot totally stop yourself from focusing on uncontrollable circumstances.

There are a lot of uncontrollable things that happen unexpectedly in a competition, you know you might get to an opponent who plays rough, talk trash, and may get a bad call, and those kinds of things will push your button and get you out of what you can control to the uncontrollable. You should recognise quickly that since they are uncontrollable there is nothing you can do. Just come back to yourself, continue focusing on your game.

The way you can deal with what is uncontrollable is basic concentration, recognise when your focus drifts. For example, worrying about the outcome when it’s uncontrollable, you cannot control the outcome of the game, if you start drifting bring yourself back to your business.  The way we can learn to control the uncontrollable is to bring focus back. Know where the trap is, recognise it.


Maurice Denys

Certified Mental Coach (CMC)

S.N.H.S.Dip (Sports Psychology)

S.N.H.S.Dip (Life coaching)


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