Mental Edge: Coping with pregame anxiety

Photo: Michael Ainsworth/AP Photo

Mental Edge: Coping with pregame anxiety

High School Sports

Mental Edge: Coping with pregame anxiety


Have you ever been so anxious that you feel physically sick in the locker room before a game or competition? For some athletes, this feeling repeats itself as they carry it into each competition. This anxiety can hurt your performance because it leads to performing tight and scared. And some athletes burn themselves out because they are nervous days before a competition.

Overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affects all aspects of your athletic experience from training, sleep, pregame eating, competitive performance and simply the enjoyment of your sport. Not only does overwhelming pre-competition anxiety affect competitive performance, it can manifest itself in frequent physical illnesses. Pregame jitters can turn into full-blown pregame anxiety if you haven’t learned how to manage your nerves.  Working with a mental game coach can help you regain control over that anxiety and help you compete with the type of confidence that produces positive results, that generates feelings of pride and personal satisfaction.

NFL Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks of the Philadelphia Eagles has experienced this high anxiety prior to games.

Brooks: “Before every game, I throw up. I can’t stop thinking about letting my team down, letting the world down, the microscope being on me. … All of a sudden you’re becoming the guy, everyone counting on me, and I’ve got to make the play every time.”

“But the thing that I’m most proud of is, I played all 16 games without having anxiety, without missing a game. That was my biggest goal. I’m more confident in myself than I’ve ever been. I’m more secure than I’ve ever been.’’

Brooks is evidence that you CAN manage your pre-competition anxiety level, no matter what is the root of the anxiety.. You CAN perform at a high level again… And you CAN regain that joy for your sport. Brooks sought out help and is mentally tougher because of it. In 2018, Brooks stated that overcoming his anxiety was his biggest victory during that season.


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