Many athletes struggle with performance anxiety. Fortunately, with the right tips, it’s possible to reduce your anxiety and perform to your full potential. All athletes, from runners to ballerinas, experience performance anxiety. While many try to calm themselves in order to reduce their anxiety, new research shows that increasing excitement can actually improve performances in anxiety-inducing activities.
In an American Psychological Association study, 113 anxious participants took turns singing karaoke. Those who tried to stay excited during this stressful activity performed 11 percent better than those who tried to remain calm and 27 percent better than those who reported feeling anxious. Staying excited and energized before a competition is definitely a mindful solution to athletic performance anxiety.
5 Tips for Reducing Athletic Performance Anxiety
Consider the Mindful Athlete tips for renewing your energy and reducing athletic performance anxiety.
Take an anxiety test
Before you begin treating your performance anxiety it’s important to determine exactly how stressed you are. Consider taking a test known as the Sports Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT). This test will determine whether your anxiety levels are low, average, or high. You can take an anxiety test that is completed electronically (here) or one that requires you to total the score (here).
Nourishing your body with the right foods before a competition is important for reducing your anxiety. B vitamins revive your brain cells and lower your stress. Avocados, milk, and almonds are rich in B vitamins. Vitamin C found in fruits and veggies (like kiwi, strawberries, and oranges) can lower stress and give you energy. So, consider having a nutritional meal like an avocado omelet or a nutritional dried oranges and almond snack before your competition.
Explore different scents
Aromatherapy has the potential to reduce your stress, increase your energy, and soothe aching muscles before a performance. Consider scents such as mint, ginger, and citrus (oranges, grapefruit, or lemon). You can rub the fragrant oils into your muscles as you warm-up and stretch. The delicate scents can help you stay energized as you perform.
Stay musically motivated
Sports psychologist, Dr. Costas Karageorghis has referred to music as a “type of legal performance-enhancing drug” for athletes. There are numerous benefits to listening to music before a performance. Music can help you stay motivated, relax your muscles, and increase your endurance. When creating your ultimate competition playlist be sure to consider the tempo, rhythm, and personal significance of each song.
Surround yourself with the right people
A strong support system can help you overcome athletic performance anxiety. Whether they give you a pre-game pep talk or simply cheer in the stands, having loved ones around you can give you new energy and reduce your stress. Unfortunately, having loved ones at each of your athletic events is not always realistic. However, talking to a loved one on the phone or via Skype before the event can also help.