BY PATIENCE LEPHOGOLE
Performing well during training or practice but choking during a competition is something that happens to athletes across different sporting codes.
If feelings of nervousness, anxiety or fear interfere with your sports performance, it is advisable for one to see a sports psychology to help you get your anxiety under control and reduce game day nerves.
Overall performance tension in sports activities happening to athletes once in a while, who are often referred to as ‘choking,’ is defined as a lower in athletic sports performance due to too much-perceived strain.
Perceived strain frequently increases in athletes on competition day because they have a target audience and that they have extraordinarily high expectancies in their performance. This type of stress is regularly based totally on the way the athletes interpret the situation.
This is mostly applicable in first time athletes, young athletes as well as first time professional athletes. It is far rarely the outside state of affairs that causes strain, however instead the manner the athlete’s self-talk describes the scenario that creates feelings of pressure, anxiety, and worry.
For athletes who choke in the course of the opposition, it’s far vital to remember that the thoughts you’ve got regarding the occasion can be modified, adjusted or controlled with suitable sports activities psychology and intellectual exercise.
Dr. Tshepang Tshub, an Educator and Researcher of Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Botswana, says game fever is the butterflies that athletes feel in their start of a competition, adding that it is known as anxiety.
Dr Tshube said; “When athletes engage in sports, just before the game or competition, they feel their stomach and body shaking hence the name butterflies. What happens is that, they have to interpret that which they feel in their stomach or body.”
“There are two ways in which they can interpret that, firstly it is to do something called facilitative, that they are activated, the athletes interprets the butterflies in their stomach facilitating their engagement in the sport or competition, highlighting that they are going to do relatively well or whatever the case may be,” he added.
He also added that it can be interpreted as the belatative that is to say that they are in trouble or they won’t do well, hence athletes start shaking. He added that “This brings a sense of apprehension of worry and a sense of nervousness, and that is anxiety.”
Dr Tshube further revealed that this transacts across all athletes, from very young to very old, from the least experienced to the most experienced. He said “The difference is that when you are experienced then you tend to manage game anxiety better than when you are least experienced. Hence it is rather not determined by age but by level of experience during discomfort and adjustment to such situations.”
“A typical example is that even at the World Cup an athlete can jog and have anxiety problems at a certain age, whilst a younger athlete at a junior school can still experience the same anxiety,” he added.
However, Dr Tshube added that an athlete with anxiety problems before a game tends to have sweaty palms as per physiological symptom, they shake, have negative self talk, are easily destructed and they are unable to focus on what they are doing.
Dr Tshube revealed that “number one cause of anxiety in a game includes uncertainty, the importance of the outcome, experience as well as being unprepared for the game.” He further highlighted that athletes should be provided with as much information as possible to curb being uncertainty.
To reduce the performance anxiety, one needs to focus on the task at hand rather than the outcome. Stay present in the moment and avoid thinking too far into the event or thinking about the finish. If you are struggling with negative thoughts and can’t break out of the cycle, simply force yourself to smile, even if only for a few seconds.
After the competition, it is important to Dr Tshube said it is good to “Review the race and recall the things you did well. Focus on actions, thoughts, and behaviours that helped you perform. Acknowledge, but quickly dismiss things that hindered your performance, design a training program that mimics race-like conditions because other teams and clubs often do such training.”
“An athlete can reduce their anxiety level through pronominal breaths, breathing in and out, as well as building their confidence,” Dr Tshube concluded.