How to Stay Calm During a Baseball Game
It is entirely normal for an athlete to feel anxious when they are on the field - especially when they are involved in a big game. However, these feelings of anxiety have the potential to decrease the quality of an athlete's performance. As such, athletes must learn how to manage these emotions during a game to perform at the highest level. Luckily, there are a variety of ways that baseball players can do this. This blog will discuss why experiencing nervousness during a game can detrimentally affect an athlete's performance. We will list five of the most effective ways athletes can calm their nerves while playing a game.
Why Nerves are Detrimental to an Athlete's Performance
Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety that revolve around games are prevalent among athletes. Though this anxiety may present itself differently in different athletes, many individuals have cited that it has negatively impacted their performances on the field. This is because various physical and psychological symptoms come about as a result of these nerves. Though there are a wide variety of symptoms that athletes may experience, some of the most common includes:
- Shallow breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of sickness
- Lack of ability to complete basic motions
- Tightness of the muscles
Though all of the symptoms listed above affect athletes' performances in different manners, they all have the potential to make it more difficult for an individual to perform at their best. For example, if an athlete has trouble concentrating while they are in a game, they may make the wrong decision or miss a play. If an athlete has tight muscles during a game, they are more susceptible to injuries. Additionally, anxiety surrounding playing in games may cause athletes to experience symptoms of the Yips.
What are the Yips?
The Yips is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when an athlete suddenly loses the motor skills and psychological sharpness necessary to excel in their sport. Everyone is susceptible to the Yips; however, this phenomenon is most common among athletes who struggle with sports-related anxiety. Additionally, because anxiety is the primary cause of the Yips, the associated symptoms usually present themselves around the times of big games. The physical symptoms that come about due to the Yips may vary; however, the most common are twitches, tremors, and spasms. The most common psychological sign of the Yips is freezing up in the middle of a competition. As such, the Yips have the potential to affect an athlete's ability to perform significantly.
How to Handle Nerves and Stay Calm During a Game:
Now that we have detailed some of the detriments of dealing with nerves relating to your sport, we are sure that you are interested in learning more about preventing these feelings and the symptoms that come with them. Luckily, if you are experiencing stress or anxiety surrounding your athletic performance, there are many steps that you can take to minimize these feelings. However, it is essential to remember that stress and anxiety present themselves differently in different individuals, and therefore, they must be treated in various manners. If you try an anxiety-mitigation method that does not work for you, that is okay and does not mean that your anxiety can not be cured. We recommend that you keep trying different anxiety reduction methods until you find one that works for you. Below, we have listed and described five of the most effective ways to calm yourself down if you are experiencing stress due to your sport.
Remind Yourself That You are Capable of Succeeding
For the majority of athletes who suffer from anxiety, these feelings become worse during games. Frequently athletes, even those subject to stress during games, do not feel these same feelings of stress when they are practicing. This allows them to play at their best during practice and to perfect their skills. For athletes who feel particularly nervous when playing in games, it may be helpful to think of when they were at trial and were in similar situations without feeling anxious. This can help remind them that they are more than capable of all of the necessary skills to succeed in a game and that they can complete these skills without feeling anxious. It may be helpful for some individuals to picture themselves at practice to eliminate some of the pressure that comes with game day situations.
Focus on Your Breathing
Paying attention to your breathing can help you stay calm during a game for various reasons. First, this gives you something to focus on, other than your nerves. By focusing on your breathing, you are providing yourself with a distraction from the stress you are feeling. Additionally, one of the symptoms of anxiety during a game is shallow breathing. By paying careful attention to your breathing, you are allowing yourself to control the speed at which you breathe, ensuring that you take slow deep breaths. Taking slow deep breaths can help mitigate some of the other symptoms that accompany game day anxiety, such as feelings of sickness or tightness of the muscles.
Only Think About What You Can Control
Baseball is a very complex game, and there are many different roles that players must complete for the team to be successful. However, each player on the team has a specified position on which they must focus. Though thinking about everything that a player must do in a game can be stressful, you can significantly reduce the stress that you are feeling by focusing solely on your job. It is normal to want to focus on all of your teammates' performances, which has the potential to increase your stress during a game, especially if one of your teammates makes a mistake. In moments like these, it is essential to remember that the actions of your teammates are not in your control and that you can only focus on doing your best. The only thing that you can do is focus on completing all of the assigned tasks.
Distract Yourself Before the Game
For many athletes who suffer from sports-related anxiety, these feelings of stress can start before the game even begins. This anxiety can then continue into the game, hurting the athlete's performance, and because of this, trying to direct your attention elsewhere can help to minimize your stress. This can be done in various ways, such as talking to a teammate, listening to music, or focusing on your warmup. If you can limit the feelings of anxiety you experience before a game, this will reduce the pressure you feel while playing. This will, in turn, improve your performance in games.
Think Positive Thoughts
Though thinking positive thoughts may be complex for athletes who are feeling anxious, this can help diminish some of the nerves that these individuals are dealing with. There are various thoughts that athletes can have that may allow them to calm themselves during a game. An example of one such idea is to remember that you have enough training to succeed. If you are playing in a game, it is inevitable that you have practiced your sport a great deal and possess all of the skills needed to excel. You have likely practiced all of the tasks that you could be called upon to complete in a game multiple times, and that you have succeeded in completing these tasks. By allowing yourself to think about this during a game, you are reminding yourself that you are more than capable of performing well and that you have succeeded in the past, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety surrounding athletic ability. However, this is not the only positive thought that athletes can tell themselves during a game. We highly recommend that athletes work on thinking positive and helpful thoughts when they begin feeling anxious.
Stress is a widespread emotion that most athletes must deal with at some point in their careers. These feelings can be highly frustrating, primarily when they result in poor performances on the field. However, there are many steps that athletes who are suffering from sports-related anxiety can take to help themselves stay calm when they are playing a game. Though it is unlikely that all of these recommendations will work for every athlete, by trying them, athletes will likely be able to find something that works for them. We hope that this article was helpful if you, or someone you know, are experiencing anxiety due to their sport.
Be sure to check out Ryan Weiss's coaching program and his other training programs to elevate your game.