Understanding Underperformance By: Sarah Frey, MS, CMT

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all perform in competition as well as we do in practice? One of the biggest hurdles we face when it comes time to ‘step up to the plate,’ is managing our feelings of stress, nervousness, and anxiety. So what if we just didn’t get nervous or stressed when game time rolled around. We’d all be fine right?

If only it were that easy! Actually, it’s not hugely complicated, but it does take some consistent effort. To really manage feelings of stress, nervousness, and anxiety, we have to first understand what causes these feelings and then how these feelings impact our performance. Only then can we recognize when our performance might start to suffer as a result of these feelings. So recognition is the key.

When we have the ability to recognize, a very powerful thing happens – we have the power to change. Recognizing the causes and onset of these negative emotions will help us to manage them, so our head doesn’t get in the way of what we’re capable of achieving when it’s go-time. So, what causes stress, nervousness, and anxiety?

Put simply, thinking about the future, or the “what-ifs.” Focusing on what’s to come or what could happen during competition (whether it’s positive or negative) takes our mind off of what we need to be doing in that moment to successfully compete. And, most future situations are not highly controllable. So the best way to create the outcomes we’re striving for is to focus on the here-and-now, or the present, and on what is highly controllable by us.

Once we’re stressed and nervous, how does that influence what we do during competition? Physically, our muscles tighten up which affects our ability to execute skills, movements, or actions effectively. Mentally, our thoughts begin to race and our focus narrows. Consequently, our decision-making suffers. The bottom line, remain aware of the causes of stress, anxiety, and nervousness, as well as the signs that your performance is suffering, and you’re one step closer to taking the “under” out of underperformance!

If you like what you just read and want to build mental toughness faster, click below to set up a free initial meeting to explore the possibility of working together. You’ll meet with a Certified Mental Trainer® in person or online via GoToMeeting. We’re not pushy salespeople, and most athletes find it quite fascinating. Working 1on1 with a Certified Mental Trainer® has 3 clear benefits: 

1) You get a customized program designed just for you;
2) You get accountability so you’re more likely to follow through and actually build the mental skills, and
3) You’ll learn the skills faster and they’ll stay with you longer.

If you’d like to explore working 1on1 with a Certified Mental Trainer®, click HERE.