Sports Training and Exercise:
Overcoming Fear

Success in most sports is psychological as well as physical. It is not uncommon for an athlete to run into a situation during competition where he or she feels intense fear or anxiety. Perhaps you have a fear of choking, or become anxious when people watch you perform. Maybe you are afraid of making mistakes, or are fearful of letting your team down. Regardless of the source of your fear, it is a paralyzing emotion that does not allow us to perform our best. But if we remember that fear is energy, and use that energy to enhance our performance, we don't need to worry about fear so much. Fear can teach you and empower you to improve your performance Following are some tips that will help you conquer fear.

Know that fear and reality are different. Is your fear rational? Is it really something to be afraid of? Don't allow yourself to think negative "what if" thoughts. Sure, you may be playing the club champion, but you've practiced hard and have the necessary skill set to beat her. The fear is in your mind, and really has nothing at all to do with the reality of the situation.

Know that it is natural to be afraid. There's a lot of pressure associated with performance, and it's natural to be afraid. If you are afraid before competition, try to use that fear and adrenaline burst to further motivate you. It's good to try and duplicate the fear situation as closely as you can beforehand in practice, so that you are prepared when you get into the real situation.

Know exactly what scares you. Know the difference between the danger and the subjective fear. It might not be completing the marathon that scares you, but rather a more specific fear that an old injury you have might rear its head halfway through. Instead of focusing on the "what ifs," try to stay focused in the moment and take things one step at a time. Ask yourself if you would be thinking about this in a practice run. Chances are you wouldn't give your old injury a second thought. Keep your perception clear!

Have a phrase handy to use when you start to feel fear. This acknowledges the onset of your fear, and also gives you a tool to combat it. Keep the phrase simple and easy to remember, and use it consistently when you start to feel fear.

Don't think of fear as fear. Instead, call it "challenge" or "excitement." Find more positive alternatives to a negative word and you are halfway there to overcoming your fears.

If fear does get to you, try to keep it at bay. To keep your anxiety to a minimum, make sure you breathe steadily and rhythmically. Know where you tend to carry excess tension and relax those areas.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.