Performance anxiety. Most feel it, no one talks about it. It’s that feeling you get down deep in your gut the night before a game or on your way to a tough practice. It affects you physically but then creeps into your mind so much that you can’t focus or breathe. When you google it, they call it stage fright but you’re not an actor – you’re an athlete. You’re expected to perform on the court. Perform in front of your peers, your coaches and your family. All of these spectators have opinions and expectations. Your performance has consequences. Will I let my team down? Will my dad be mad about any mistakes? Will my coach bench me? What if I get hurt?

We’re here to tell you that all these feelings are normal and unfortunately, common. That doesn’t make them any less painful though. Anxiety can be crippling. But, it doesn’t have to be. There are several steps and practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help diminish the level of anxiety you might experience before or during performance.

Here a few steps you can take to overcome feelings of anxiety or nervousness before performance.

  1. Focus on your why. Focusing on your why is a great way to stay positive about what you’re really working toward. When we can remember our why, we can more easily picture a positive outcome. This is also helps us to stay present and enjoy the process. When we’re able to stay present it can diminish overwhelm.
  2. Write your worries. Write down your concerns and worries that are causing your panic. When we write down what’s bothering us it can really put things into perspective and minimize negative thoughts.
  3. Visualize the experience. You can close your eyes and envision the location where you’ll be performing. Visualize who will be in the stands, who your opponents are and where your teammates will be in relation to you. Visualize yourself performing all the technical skills you’ve been practicing tirelessly for years. See yourself ace the serve. See yourself make the kill. Visualize the score board you want. If you can, show up early to the venue and repeat the process while you’re in the arena. Be as accurate and specific as possible.
  4. Meditate. You can meditate anywhere and everywhere. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes if you can and start to focus solely on your breath. As thoughts creep into your mind, as they naturally will, acknowledge them, then turn back to your breath. Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick meditation that will bring you a sense of calm, clarity, and focus on 

Get access to the meditation video here.

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About the Author

Kalynn Evans (B.S., NASM-CPT, E-RYT 200, FMSC, XPT Coach) is the Owner of Yoga Athletex, LLC alongside her sister Patricia Bomar. She grew up playing volleyball; her mom and coach was a former college volleyball player at University of Houston and then a member of the US national team, so volleyball was instilled in her from a young age. Kalynn played club volleyball for 7 years at Club Texas in Houston. She played D1 college volleyball at SE Louisiana where she graduated with an accounting degree. Having some back and hip injuries throughout her volleyball career led Kalynn to practice yoga, and want to offer yoga to youth and adult athletes to prevent and rehabilitate injury. She completed her 200 RYT in 2013, completed Yin and Restorative Trainings in 2015 and 2016, FMS Cert 2016, and NASM-CPT in 2017 and XPT coaching certificate in 2018.

Kalynn’s Instagram: @kalynnevans
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