Mental Training Part 2 - Nerves And Anxiety
Many sports not only require physical skills, but a strong
mental game as well. Most coaches believe that sports are
90% mental and only 10% physical. Especially in sports where
hundredths of a second or tenths of an inch separate the champions
from the mediocre athletes, an extra edge can be extremely
crucial. Hence, numerous athletes are turning towards mental
imagery to take their game to the next level. Different uses
of imagery in sport include: mental practice of specific performance
skills, improving confidence and positive thinking, problem
solving, controlling arousal and anxiety, performance review
and analysis, preparation for performance, and maintaining
mental freshness during injury (Porter & Foster, 1990). This
article focuses on controlling arousal and anxiety.
Nerves and Anxiety
Many people get extremely nervous about entering races or
competitions and may even avoid racing all together because
the anxiety is so completely overwhelming. I see nerves as
an advantage, however. If you are the type of person who gets
ill at the thought of an upcoming race this means that you
hold a lot of pressure on yourself to do well and the race
itself is a very significant event for you. This means that
your performance is important to you. You need to redirect
all of the passion and energy that you feel as nerves and
anxiety into a positive direction and use it as an advantage
for yourself on race day. The following Mental Relaxation
Techniques change your focus of attention and can aid you
in reducing tension and anxiety.
These techniques require practice since breathing properly
is a skill that you must learn, but practice can take place
at any time.
Complete Breathing: The advantage of complete breathing
is that you can achieve momentary relaxation with one breath.
One or two breaths immediately before a game or event can
have a calming effect on your mental state.
- Imagine your lungs as being divided into three levels:
lower, middle, and upper.
- When you start to inhale, focus on filling the lower
level with air by pushing your diaphragm down and your stomach
- In continuing inhalation, fill the middle level by expanding
your chest cavity and raising your rib cage.
- Fill the upper level by raising your chest and shoulders
- Hold the inhalation for 3-5 seconds.
- Force all the air out of your lungs in this exhalation
and 'let go' of all the muscular tension in your chest and
Rhythmic Breathing: Rhythmic breathing is a slightly
more sophisticated version of complete breathing in that you
coordinate breathing patterns with a measured, external count.
In this method you slowly count to four as you inhale, count
to four as you hold the inhalation, count to four as you exhale
and then count to four as you hold the exhalation.
Ratio Breathing: This technique requires an inhale/exhale
ratio of 1:2. If you count to four as you inhale, you count
to eight as you exhale. This method requires a deep, full
breath at the start and it forces you to be more conscious
of controlling your exhalations and inhalations.
From Tao of Sports
"In a relaxed state, recall a time when you felt confident
of your ability to perform. This may have been in a practice
session or during the "heat" of competition. Feel a sense
of oneness with your sport; your play is a natural extension
of the greatness within you. Fell the exhilaration and satisfaction
of perfect execution.
Take this feeling and pair it with an anchor, such as the
circle formed by pressing your index finger and thumb together.
This is your reference point for the feeling of confident
play. Use it during moments when your confidence wanes.
Now, with anchor in place, imagine yourself just prior to
an upcoming performance. See yourself calm and confident.
Enter the arena of play, and perform exactly the way you know
you can. This is the state of being truly confident in your
ability to perform well under any circumstance."
Try practicing visualization or breathing techniques once
a day if you find nerves and anxiety are obstacles to your
performance. Adding daily mental training to your physical
training program will help you reach the next level in your
Sarah Seads B.A. Kinesiology, is the owner of Equilibrium
Lifestyle Management, based in the Comox Valley, BC, Canada.
She provides fun Fitness Adventures and Personal Training
Services in person and online. For more information visit
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sarah_Seads
Return to Mental
Training Articles directory.