2 Ways To Combat Performance Stress and Anxiety

STACK expert Todd Stofka gives two sports psych tips for overcoming sports performance anxiety.

Performance Stress

What is it about anxiety and stress? It affects millions of athletes from all walks of life on a daily basis. For some, such apprehensions are just a fleeting moments in time, but for others, they create a debilitating state that inhibits athletic performance. (See how Shaq combatted it.)

Do you suffer from anxiety or stress, especially during games or practice when you're in the spotlight? Here are two ways to fight back.

Problem: Feeling Stress and Anxiety

Whether you have a public career like your favorite professional player or you're just rocking the rec league, stress and anxiety make it tough to succeed. They put up imaginary walls that make it really hard to move forward. Although the walls are not real, when you hit them, they stop you in your tracks.


Design a new future that works. We did this with Olympic runner Khadevis Robinson, who at the age of 35 made the 2012 USA Olympic Team. Robinson'a design removed all obstacles so that he was magnetically drawn to that spot.

Problem: Obsessing About the Past

Dragging up old memories is like trying to swim with a boat anchor around your neck; the only place you will swim is right to the bottom. Obsessing over uncontrollables, like yesterday's missed shot or the bad call in the last game, can drop you into guilt and remorse, two "jail cells" that hold you back.


A wise man once said: "I am forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."

Severing and forgetting is the key to getting out of the prison of the past. In working with Robinson, we coaxed him to forget previous races, training sessions, and injuries, and simply to run the race that was in front of him—and run it fast.

When anyone, young or old, finds himself or herself in this situation, it is to their advantage to seek out a qualified learning performance specialist so that the stress and anxiety affecting their performance will not limit their future potential.

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