It is often the case that we suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Anxiety can also be related to pre-match nerves or develops over time due to low self-confidence.
Stage Fright – Once we cross the line we are on STAGE.
If we are anxious of competition a number of things can occur.
There are two effects of anxiety:
1) Psychological (in the head) (Cognitive)
2) Physiological (in the stomach) (Somatic)
Performers who dwell on their anxiety will suffer from poor performance.
Performers will suffer from a range of:
1) Restricted focus
2) Poor concentration
3) Limited control
4) Lack of spatial awareness
5) Negative thinking/thoughts
6) Butterflies in the stomach
7) Increased heart rate
8) Tight muscles
9) Sweaty palms
10) Feelings of apprehension/sickness
In order to help our mind overcome our negative symptoms there are a range of strategies that need to be practiced on a regular basis.
1) 10 steps to effective deep breathing – this method is crucial in reducing butterflies in the stomach. To benefit you must find a quiet place (at home) and lie down.
STEP 1) close your eyes and regulate your breathing by starting to feel the centre of your stomach.
STEP 2) put both hands on your stomach and feel it go up and down for twenty seconds.
STEP 3) control your breathing through your nose and out your mouth. This must be a smooth transition that flows as a rhythm.
STEP 4) think back to your best performance and recall all the positive feelings that you had. During this recall think of all the positive emotions and the impact they had on your body. You should now be relaxed.
STEP 5) concentrate on your stomach and feel it go up and down slowly.
STEP 6) try and imagine you are inside your stomach and see how it feels. If it is tight try and make it relax, imagine you are stroking it.
STEP 7) next, bring some colours into your thinking and make them float inside your stomach. Do this for ten seconds.
STEP 8) now tighten the muscles in and around your stomach and relax them after ten seconds.
STEP 9) reintroduce the colours into your stomach for ten seconds and see how you feel.
STEP 10) for the final three to five minutes imagine you are at the seaside, the sun is out, the sea is calm and you are relaxing in the sand. Keep this in your mind and smile.
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About Gobinder Gill
Gobinder is a lecturer in Sport Psychology and Research Methods at Birmingham Metropolitan College in the West Midlands.