Nerves and frustration: You have the power to master them!

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Nerves and frustration: You have the power to master them!

Nerves and frustration: You have the power to master them!

Have you ever felt your heart suddenly racing before a match, not allowing you to breathe or think as clearly as you usually do in practice? Have you experienced not seeming to be able to perform as well in matches as in training? Does it happen that you don’t seem to get all the pieces of the puzzle together as well as you want when under pressure? 

You’re not the only one. These situations are caused by ‘perceived stress’ which increases during matches. You become aware you might have an audience. You have high expectations for your success at the tournament.  You really want to play well after weeks of hard training. A lot of this type of stress exists because of how you see the situation – because of your ‘framework’ of the situation.  In other words, we kind of create the stress ourselves by how we talk to ourselves, by what we expect. And this means – we can prevent it from happening too! Which is great news!

As an athlete who happens to freeze during competition, you have to know you can modify your thoughts regarding the event and your performance.

3 tips to help you master these thoughts:

1- Stop being your own opponent

2- Be your own best coach

3- Force a smile 🙂

1- Stop being your own opponent

As ambitious athletes we sometimes have doubts or thoughts that originate from a perceived lack of ability. We think we can’t do it. We think the opponent is better. We might even think other people think the other player is better. Immediately stop this kind of self-talk! Come back to the ‘here and now’ and rely on the present – and what you can actually experience with your senses. Perform a reality check and adjust your self-talk.

As an athlete you need to realize that it’s tough to compete when your own internal voice is giving you negative messages. By doing so you have created another opponent to overcome, and that’s the last thing you need. So stop being your own worst opponent and instead…be your best coach!

2- Be your own best coach

When under pressure, have you ever tried to mentally ‘step out of yourself’ and start talking to yourself as if you were the coach who had to help and encourage yourself? Trying to look at the situation from such a helicopter view helps a lot. It will lead to positive, instead of negative, self-talk. As a coach, you are now obliged to be less judging, more encouraging, and more positive. Start doing this in practice and then bring it into your matches as well. What will you say to yourself as your coach ?

3- Force a smile 🙂

This is a funny one – literally! We often get the ‘really?’ look when we ask players to force a smile during moments with negative thoughts. A lot of athletes have a hard time breaking out cycles of negative thoughts and therefore stop enjoying the practice or match. When frustration keeps on snowballing it is hard to think clearly. Stop with everything for one second and force a smile – it can make a huge difference in just one split second. It will not only change your thoughts, but will impact your attitude, your body language and the message you are giving to your opponent. And it gives you that little time to relax and get ready to be a true competitor again.

To conclude, it is crucial you understand you are in control. You can master the thoughts and emotions you are feeling.

Be your own best coach – and smile!

For more MSquash tips: www.msquash.com/blogs or contact us to join the Academy!

 
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