Using Your Fears To Succeed

Don’t be afraid. If you are afraid, you cannot move forward.

- Malala Yousafzai

For some athletes, fear can be channeled to help them prepare for performance.

Here are some ways to use fear to your advantage.

1. Breathe Deep: when your heart and mind start to race, slow it down. Some athletes like putting their hand on their heart to physically feel their heart rate slow down as they breathe. They feel it’s a way to ground themselves in the present moment because they are focused on one thing.

2. Self Talk Cue: create an affirming statement or cue word to remind you that your feelings of nervousness mean you are ready. Athletes will say things like “You got this,” or “It’s go time!”


3. Find a focal point: focus on something in your environment. For example, a cross country runner may focus on a tree that is ahead in the distance as something to run to rather than thinking about the pain and exhaustion of racing.

4. Relax your muscles. Fear and anxiety can cause certain muscles to tense up. Scan your body and take notice of tense muscles and relax the tension in that area of your body.

5. Remind yourself why you are ready. Create a checklist in your head of why you are ready. You can even remind yourself in practice of how the time and effort you are putting in prepares you for competition.

In the end, create consistent habits and reminders of why you are ready to perform. That way, when your nerves start to build before or during competition, you are ready to channel those nerves into a successful performance, rather than allowing it to unravel your performance.

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