Performance Anxiety For Athletes
In my last article about sports performance anxiety, I discussed how fear of failure is closely tied to choking and under performance in athletes. And if you don’t perform as well in competition as you do in practice, you are most likely afraid to fail or anxious at some level. But how does your performance change when you go from practice to competition. You want to look at this closely as this will give you clues as to the source of your performance anxiety.
Where does choking and performance anxiety for athletes come from? I’ve already said I think it’s largely based on fear of failure and fear of embarrassment.
But what happens to your performance when in competition? What does it look like when you are choking? Here’s a short list of how your performance may changed because of the tension and fear:
- You perform tight or stiff, your muscles don’t feel loose
- You are tired prior to competition due to excessive worry
- You performance is tentative as if you are afraid to take risks
- You can trust your skills and tend to over control your performance
- Some athletes feel as if they are choking and lack enough oxygen to breath
- Do might focus too much on the outcome of the competition and thus have mental lapses in the moment.
- You might feel more easily distracted, have less confidence, and can’t find any momentum in your game
- You would rather practice than compete
Some athletes will feel more at ease in their practice routines because they don’t want to risk failing in competition or the feeling of anxiety and pressure. Just today I received the following note from a sports parent:
“My son says he gets more out of training than he does out of competition. He has said he loves the journey, not the destination. If a swim meet does not make sense to him, and there is not a specific reason for him to swim fast, he feels the meet is interrupting his training and he does not perform well.”
Competition is interrupting his training? This is a sign of a perfectionist athlete who is afraid to go to meets due to choking or anxiety he feels. He would rather stay stuck in his training routines than to be put in the pressure grinder of competition. This is a sign that some intervention needs to take place. And it may be the child feels performance anxiety and expectations to perform well for his parents.