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Pre-game anxiety   |14 May 2022

What is pre-game anxiety?

How to cope with anxiety?

Anyone who has participated in a sports competition may be aware of the concept of sports anxiety. Often referred to as “choking”, sports anxiety can best be described as the nervousness, fear.  Anxiety and stress can cause your body to become tense, and athletes dealing with sports anxiety may not be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

Have you ever been so anxious that you feel physically sick in the changing room before a game or competition?

For some athletes, this feeling repeats itself as they carry it into each competition.

This anxiety can hurt your performance because it leads to performing tight and scared. And some athletes burn themselves out because they become nervous days before a competition.

 Overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affects all aspects of your athletic experience from training, sleep, pre-game eating, competitive performance and simply the enjoyment of your sport.

 Not only does overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affect competitive performance, it can manifest itself in frequent physical illnesses.

 Maybe you feel you are the only athlete experiencing this type of overwhelming pre-competition anxiety, but it happens to athletes at every competitive level including Olympic, professional, and youth athletes.

 Many athletes become so disappointed and frustrated because they train and practice at a high level but seem incapable of translating those efforts to competition because of this overwhelming anxiety. After a while, you question whether it is even worth being an athlete.

 Pre-game jitters can turn into full-blown pre-game anxiety if you haven’t learned how to manage your nerves.

 Many athletes deal with this condition by seeking out the assistance of mental performance coaches or sports psychologists to assist in overcoming anxiety with great success.

 Working with a mental game coach can help you regain control over that anxiety and help you compete with the type of confidence that produces positive results that generate feelings of pride and personal satisfaction.


Coping with pre-game anxiety


Focus on your pre-game warm-up routine. Within your routine, use deep breathing, tighten and release, listen to music with noise cancelling headphones, or calming visualisation or meditation.

Avoid thinking about outcomes and the aftermath of the competition.

 Most worry is about negative outcomes and what others might think of your performance. You can't care about what others think if you want to perform freely without fear.

If you find yourself worrying about who is in the crowd watching you, or that the other competitors are better than you ‒ remind yourself that these are aspects of the competition that are out of your control. What you can control is your own performance, how well prepared you are, and how well you implement techniques and strategies.

Athlete with anxiety should talk to the team coach, mental coach, psychologist or counselor.    


Maurice Denys (Mr)                                                                                                               

Certified Mental Coach (CMC)

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

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


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