Anxiety is not uncommon among athletes including track and field athletes. Anxiety helps them stay focused and be able to sharpen their performance during the game. However, for some runners, they let anxiety overcome them. The pressure to win the race takes a toll on them, leading to performance anxiety, which in turn may result in poor performance.
Symptoms of performance anxiety include trouble in breathing and tightness in the chest. It is also normal to feel tense, nauseous or dizzy. Breathing and heart rate can also speed up, and in some cases, runners would experience blurry vision, muscle tension, clammy skin, sweaty palms or dry mouth.
Managing Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety can significantly affect the performance of athletes. That is why it is important that every athlete should know how to personally manage this condition. There are several steps that can help avoid it.
Practice makes perfect. It is a famous saying that has some truth to it. Practicing can help you master the techniques in running, making it second nature. When practicing, it would be good to practice in a condition that simulates the actual competition so that when you are in the actual competition, you will be more confident in facing it.
- Breathe deeply
Before the race starts, take a deep breath to relax your muscles and cover your nervousness. Do it several times until you feel more comfortable.
Try to visualize yourself once the go signal is given. Plan out your strategies to win the game, but also anticipate some challenges you might face. It is one of the best ways to prepare for the competition.
- Focus on what you can do
During the actual race, think on what you can do to win it. Avoid thinking about the “what ifs” such as what if I stumble, what if I get sprained, and so on.
- Do your best
In any type of competition, just do your best regardless of your circumstances. Even if your opponents are taller or more experienced, simply doing your best can give a boost in your performance. Being in the “here and now” allows you to apply whatever you have practiced and to give it your winning performance.
- Be optimistic
It will make a lot of difference when you are optimistic in your sport. When faced with challenges, always think that there is a way around it. Always think, “Yes, it can be done” rather than, “It’s impossible.” Oftentimes, self-imposed pressure can drag your performance instead of making it better.
The prevalence of performance anxiety in sports is undeniable. Many athletes in various sports suffer from this condition, even the seasoned and experienced ones. When you think that you are prone to this type of anxiety, consider the steps mentioned above. They apply not only to track and field athletes but also to players in any other sport.