Performance anxiety is a common problem facing sports people and athletes at all levels. Why is it a problem? Apart from being an uncomfortable experience, it drains energy which the athlete needs for the performance itself, and reduces impact due to the physical effect on the body, primarily of causing muscle tension and the shortening of the muscles. Performance anxiety during the event can cause “choking” – where an athlete who looks certain to win suddenly cracks under pressure.
It should be remembered that some athletes experience performance anxiety in a positive way – as the adrenaline needed to spur them on to deliver that little bit extra when it counts. So when is it a problem? Performance anxiety is a problem when it impacts results, and inhibits the athlete from achieving his or her potential. Common symptoms are being unable to translate the performance in practice into competition itself.
So if you are suffering from performance anxiety, what can you do about it? Well there is no single way to treat performance anxiety, as there are multiple possible causes. If the root of the anxiety is a traumatic event in childhood, then it is best resolved at cause, meaning that the athlete can then be free of anxiety in all situations. With such clients we regress to cause and quickly identify the memory which is causing the anxiety (which may be unrelated to the sport the client is practicing), and replace it with a new positive idea. The mind then replicates this new idea in all situations where the client might experience inappropriate anxiety in the future.
Alternatively it could be a habit where the mind simply needs retraining, replacing the habit of anxiety with calm. There are many exercises which, when practiced, can retrain the mind to experience competition in a positive way. Or the client could be in a “worry loop”, needing to replace negative body language with more positive stances, and negative self-talk with the self-talk of a new encouraging best friend.
To find out how you can get help with performance anxiety, and get the results you deserve, contact [email protected]