Could Sport-Induced Anxiety Be Messing Up Your Game?

September 28, 2011 | Nicholas Welch

Athletes at any level can experience sport-related anxiety. Whether you're feeling nervous during a playoff game or getting psyched out before a critical foul shot, you can think yourself right into losing a game. So, what can you do to make sure you perform well when your team is counting on you?

Sports psychologist John Murray, who works with NFL, MLB and NCAA star athletes, connects most athletes' mental issues to fear.

"People tend to think about results, and that causes fear, because they're afraid of losing or looking bad," Murray told the Palm Beach Daily News. "They're afraid of letting themselves down or their team down. It's the same response that would occur if a snake was about to attack you. It's an inappropriate response in this day and age, but our bodies haven't caught up with that.

"To break that response, you have to get in and do some serious techniques, like classical conditioning and relaxation work. I don't want people to think more. I want them to think less. I want them to be on autopilot," he said.

Sports psychologists agree that athletes need to clear their minds to perform at their best. Avoid sports anxiety by:

  • Envisioning yourself hitting the shot, making the catch or winning the game. Never allow negative thoughts to creep into your mind before a game. Start thinking about what you're going to accomplish rather than what you can accomplish.
  • Focusing on things you can control. Don't spend time worrying about your opponent or the crowd. You can't control those elements of the game, and thinking about them can only bring your game down.
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people. If your family, friends or teammates start saying negative things about the game, find someone who's more positive or go somewhere by yourself.

Your mindset is more important to your performance than you may realize. Next game, try some of the techniques used by the pros to take your performance to the next level.

Topics: NEWS
Must See
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 7,556,037
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,100,383
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 86,497

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,017,580
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,821
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,687
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,717
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,414
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,083
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,085
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,111

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Many coaches believe in the concept of "You play how you practice", but many don't actually implement this with their athletes. Stress exposure training...

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Tips to Be a Better Leader

Tips to Be a Better Leader

4 Tips for Building Confidence

4 Tips for Building Confidence

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

A Coach Describes What Its Like to Cut Players

A Coach Describes What It

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

How Mentally Tough Are You?

How Mentally Tough Are You?

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

YardBarker