The mind is a very powerful tool, often underused in sport, which can help you change your perception of any situation. That perception is directly correlated to your understanding of pressure and the resulting nerves you feel.
How can we use the power of our minds to help us handle nerves and overcome sport anxiety better?
In our previous blog ‘Anxiety in sports: Don’t fear nerves. Learn to control it.’, we mentioned a few strategies you could use to help you manage sport anxiety and control your nerves, channelling them to your advantage. One of them was to use positive visualisation and affirmations and that’s what we’ve asked Jacko to tell us more about…
Using positive visualisation and affirmations
Nerves don’t have to be a bad thing. They are natural. You become nervous because you want to win and the competition means something to do. There’s no need to be scared of nerves. Like we said in our previous blog, the trick is to learn to understand them and use them in your favour rather than against you. Two mind training tools that many professional sports people, myself included, have used to help control nerves and sport anxiety are visualisation and affirmations.
Visualisation is where we create images in our minds to try to ‘trick’ the mind to believe that what we are imagining is actually happening. Clear, well-rehearsed visualisations can ‘trick’ the mind. This is because our minds cannot differentiate between real life and good, positive, clear images in our minds. This allows us to practice and rehearse, in our minds, the pressure situations that make us feel nervous and practice imagining feeling relaxed and in control, rather than feeling nervous. When it comes to the situation you’ve rehearsed in your mind, your mind will revert to what you practiced, feeling relaxed and in control, not nervous.
Affirmations are the second mind training tool we can use to help us stay in control of our nerves. Affirmations are positive statements we say to ourselves. They might be statements that are not yet entirely true, but they will be a positive statement about how we wish to become. In relation to handling nerves, we would create a positive statement about how we either handle or deal with nerves.
They should be a statement from you, to yourself, telling yourself how you are in control of your nerves. For example, “I’m relaxed and calm under pressure and use nervous energy in a positive way”.
This is a fairly generic example, but you can make your affirmation specific to you as an individual and specific to your sport where you find yourself becoming nervous. Say it regularly to yourself and it will become part of your subconscious thinking. If you struggle with nerves, give affirmations and visualisations a try. You’ll be surprised at what power lies within your mind.
Thanks for sharing, Jacko…
Sometime ago, one of our athletes, Charlotte Henshaw with Jacko discussed the importance of having a strong performance mindset. If you’ve missed it, check it out and find out what the 5 key things are to remember about using affirmations…
Need some help to build a strong mindset of your own?
Don’t let nerves become your Kryptonite, negatively affecting your performance. If you’ve never tried affirmations and visualisation to help optimise your mindset and ultimately your sports performance, give them a try. You’ll be surprised by the power waiting to be unleashed in your mind. Jacko and Rich can help you develop an unshakeable mindset of your own, so why not get in touch today?
Share your story
If visualisation or affirmations have worked for you to tackle those nerves and channel them to your advantage, we’d love to hear your story so feel free to leave a comment below.