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Tight Mind Monday: How To Handle Your Nerves Under Pressure
Oct 23, 2017
Tight Mind Monday: Eeeek! How To Handle Nerves
You’re standing in front of the judge about to salute. As you stand there, you feel that funny feeling in your stomach. Oh no, you’re nervous -- very nervous! How do you handle nerves so that you can still perform your best?
First of all, everyone gets nervous, coaches and athletes alike. Nerves are natural. Actually, they are biological. Thousands of years ago, our "fight or flight" response was essential to our survival. We needed the adrenaline to run away from wild beasts as well as kill them for food. Today, our fight or flight mechanism continues to be triggered by stress, pressure, and perceived threat. It might be trigged by having to do a new skill without a spot for the first time, or as we prepare to salute at state championships.
So, how can we channel our adrenaline so that we use it to our advantage and not let it destroy us?
Here are your Tight Mind Monday tips:
Change Your Body LanguageA Harvard study recently found that if you change your face and body language when you’re nervous, you’re body responds after two minutes by reducing stress chemicals. So, stand confident, put on your kick-butt face, and get your actor skills in motion by acting as if you’re feeling awesome, even if you’re not.
View Nervousness As ExcitementReframe your nerves by thinking how amazing it is to be doing what you are doing in this moment. Maybe you are competing, or maybe you are doing something challenging. Whatever it is, say to yourself, “I’m pumped, excited, and I feel it.” When you redefine nerves as excitement, your body tends to calm down. Don’t fight your butterflies, just help them fly in formation. In other words, channel your nerves to help you focus and perform even better than you would have performed without them.
Remember Your Breathing And Mantra StatementsThe word “mantra” is Sanskrit meaning “protector of the mind.” Take some deep breaths and say statements that help you feel in control. Your body is releasing adrenaline because it perceives a threat. Help to reassure it by saying, “It’s ok," “I got this," or “I’m ready.”
Nerves are normal! Channel them to help and not hurt your performance by using these tools. Put on great body language, feel excited, breathe, and remember that Bob Marley said it best, “Every little thing is gonna be all right!”
Alison Arnold, Ph.D. has been a peak performance consultant to USA Gymnastics since 1997. For more information on Doc Ali and her work, go to www.headgamesworld.com or www.headgameswebcamp.com