Handling the Pressure

     Your stomach is in knots. Your heart rate mimics a level when you're already exercising, but the competition has not even started yet . "I must have drank too much coffee" is what we tell ourselves. But do we really believe it? We have all been there. We are suffering from a case of the pre-competition jitters. 

     Is it bad to be nervous before a competition? Absolutely not. Most of us will be nervous and it is completely natural. I cannot simply just leave it there and walk away however, because what lies beneath the surface of that nervousness is what is important. In other words, why are you nervous and anxious about your upcoming competition?

      Even successful athletes get nervous, but it goes away in time. How are they able to escape the clutches of anxiety before it sabotages their performance? I believe there are two reasons.

     The first reason is that the athlete recognizes their nervousness and then begins to focus inwardly. Think about the times that anxiety has overtaken you, what were you focusing on? The answer undoubtedly is something outside of you, more specifically something outside of your control. Some common examples are: the weather, other competitors, the hype of the competition itself and who is in attendance (just to name a few). 

     Do you recognize that you have absolutely no control over these factors? In each of the examples above there is nothing that worry can do to change them. Therefore it would be much easier to simply acknowledge those things as facts for the moment and shift our focus elsewhere. Specifically it be best to shift our focus to the one thing we know that we can control...ourselves.

     When we shift our mindset to focus inwardly, we arrive at a safe place. Why? Because you feel a sense of empowerment and control. You have the ability to think about whatever you want, and when you are thinking about yourself you also have the ability to make any changes you would like to see because you control you! I know this sounds silly, but is it not true?

     Now that you feel more secure because you have adopted an inward focus, get to work on what you would like to achieve, gain or learn from your upcoming competition. Get the conversation started with your inner self and then step back and watch as your mind begins to make all kinds of suggestions and provide great insights. 

     I know that at first this may seem awkward to implement, but it truly does work. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the concept of auto-suggestion (http://utmostperformance.org/blog/2016/8/12/auto-suggestion)and here is a tangible way that principle can be put into practice. There is no need to be nervous for longer than we ought to be. Turn your focus inwards and enjoy the extra cup of coffee before your next competition!