Performance anxiety is a very real thing for many athletes! The mental aspect of volleyball is just as crucial as the physical part. Have you ever experienced being at practice and nailing over 10 serves, but when it comes to game-time situations that confidence can slowly fade away? The big match can feel overwhelming with the high expectations and standards we have for ourselves. Fear not, you’re not alone and can overcome it! Let your game shine and help control nerves with these five de-stressing tactics:
Take five minutes before your match to sit in a quiet place and be still. Close your eyes or keep a soft gaze. Focus just on your breath. As you inhale, feel the air go through your nose while your stomach expands. Hold that breath and exhale. Try to focus on nothing except for each characteristic of your breath. Take the last minute to visualize yourself making great plays and watch them come to life. Your thoughts have a major impact on how you perform. Close your eyes and see yourself getting that dig or killing a spike. Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Fixate on the positive and the visualization of your success is more likely to become a reality.
Fake it till you make it! Even if you’re trembling on the inside, make yourself smile. By physically creating a smile, you end up changing your attitude. What can start as a forced smile will eventually turn into very real happiness.
Focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome. Stay present in the moment and avoid thinking too far into the match. Take it one play at a time! Also, use the “5-second rule”. If you make a bad play (which everyone does as humans) it’s okay to take 5 seconds to focus on what to do differently. After those 5-seconds pass, move your focus forward on the next play to come. If you focus too long on a bad play it will end up bringing down your performance.
Limit Caffeine +Sugar
As much as we all like to get hyped up before a match, often too much sugar or caffeine can have a negative impact on performance anxiety. It will make you jittery and increase your heart rate. The excess sugar and caffeine creates a type of energy that makes you more easily irritable and less patient with yourself, which could negatively impact your game.
Let go of Perfectionism
Of course never missing a serve, getting every dig, and killing every spike would be awesome. That’s not life though. Mistakes happen. Sometimes a lot of mistakes. Which is how you learn, grow your game, and build your character. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Shake off that mistake and know it is not going to determine your life five months from now or five years from now.
Performance anxiety lives and dies in your mind. Take a deep breath and know your team, family, and friends support and love you regardless!