9 Proven Strategies to Calm Pre-Game Nerves and Boost Football Performance
All footballers experience nervousness before a big game or event at one time or another.
This is due to our natural fight or flight response when confronted with a stressful situation. However, if these physical symptoms of nervousness are not controlled, it can lead to devastating performance anxiety. Below we'll explore 9 strategies that you can use to calm nerves before a big performance.
1. Develop your own pre-performance routine
A pre-performance routine can help improve attentional focus, reduce distractions, and overcome negative thoughts. It's important to develop your own routine to prepare yourself both physically and mentally on game day. Pre-performance routines teach you to act automatically, reducing the amount of thinking you need to do, which can help prevent over-thinking and reduce the opportunity for your nerves and anxiety to take over your thoughts.
2. Control your pre-performance focus and concentration
Focusing too much on the outcome or the opponent can lead to increased pressure and nerves. Instead, focus on the present moment and your own job. This will help you stay calm and focused.
3. Don't dwell on the uncontrollables
It's easy to get hung up on the things you have no control over, such as the opponent, the crowd, or the weather.
Focusing on these things will only make you more nervous and undermine your confidence. Instead, focus on the things you can control, such as your preparation, pre-performance routine, and performance.
4. Breathing control
When you feel the first sign of nerves, switch your focus to your breathing. Taking slow and deep breaths can do wonders for calming your nerves. You don't have to be an expert in yoga to master the art of controlling your breathing. Just a few breaths taken immediately before a game can momentarily calm your nerves and remove stress and anxiety.
Visualisation involves imagining yourself being successful. This can help improve confidence, motivation, and reduce stress and performance anxiety.
Close your eyes, imagine the physical movements you would make in a game to be successful, and use all your senses to make the imagined experience as close to a match day as possible.
6. Cognitive restructuring
Cognitive restructuring involves changing your habitual way of thinking. To combat pre-match nerves, it aims to change any negative thoughts that may be causing or contributing to this performance anxiety.
Recognising negative thoughts when they first enter your mind allows you to stop them before they take hold so you can replace them with positive ones.
7. Distract yourself
If it keeps your mind from generating negative thoughts and unnecessary anxiety, go and talk to a teammate, listen to your favourite music, or do something that can take your mind off the upcoming match for a few minutes.
8. Recognise and accept that pre-match nerves are normal
Getting nervous before a game is perfectly normal. Recognising and accepting this can help you feel more at ease with the situation, reducing anxiety and stress.
Practicing these strategies regularly can help you stay calm and focused when it matters most. Incorporating them into your pre-performance routine can help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for game day.
Remember, practice is required consistently to see lasting progress even with mindset training. So start incorporating these strategies into your pre-performance routine today.
Comment below with how you get on!
If you would like 1-1 help, every player in our 1-1 Elite Programme gets 24/7 instant message access to our Premier League Academy Sports Psychologist for personal mindset support and guidance any time.
Also, our Football Mindset Transformation Programme will take you step by step through a proven framework which will transform how you think and feel on the pitch in high pressure situations. The results players see are pretty mind-blowing.
Last thing, don't forget to checkout our new Football Psychology Workshop Replays HERE.
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