Tips To Overcome Game-Day Anxiety

Nearly everybody has felt anxious at some point in their life. For athletes, this is also known as performance anxiety. Here are some tips on how to overcome game-day anxiety that will hopefully help you in the long run!

1. Normalize Feelings Of Anxiety

In high-stress environments, it is common to have feelings of anxiety. You need to acknowledge these feelings and realize that they are completely ok and you are not crazy for having them.

A lot of the time, athletes are excited about their next game. But when they are nervous and anxious it is to be expected and should not be suppressed. Instead, you should feel comfortable discussing them with someone, whether it is a coach or a teammate.

2. Think Positive

It is important to change those negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Our thoughts affect the way we feel and the way we interpret a situation, so switching harmful thoughts into ones that are more practical and positive is the solution to making you feel better.

For example, think about what went well during the game instead of what went wrong. This can help boost self-confidence and reduce the negative thoughts that can play a part in anxiety.

3. Concentrate On The Present

In any sport competition, athletes always wish to win the game so that they can attain some goal. For instance, an athlete’s goal may be to win the game so their team can get to the playoffs. However, that way of thinking can result in you concentrating on the future, when in reality, you should concentrate on the present moment on the field or court where you are playing.

You can not concentrate on your legacy when you have not gotten there yet. To attain your goals, you need to concentrate on making the next shot or the correct move in play after play.

4. Be Prepared

Long before the game day comes, give your future self the least amount of worry possible by sticking to a game plan. This is crucial when you are under an immense amount of stress.

When setting your game plan in motion, keeping it short and to the point is important. You should have no more than three technical items or strategies.

5. Do Not Forget To Breathe

A crucial part of regaining your self-control and controlling your behavior is to breathe. When nerves begin to present themselves, do not forget to breathe and find something to focus on.

Deep breathing is the most effective when you find a quiet, safe place to sit. If you are unable to do this, especially if you are on the field playing a game, it is important to take a moment to take 5-10 deep breaths. This can briefly alleviate any stress or anxiety that you were feeling beforehand.

6. Do Not Forget To Have Fun

As you get older, sports get a lot more competitive which can completely take the fun out of it. Over 70% of children stop playing organized sports by age 13. The reason that most children quit playing sports is that “It’s just not fun anymore.”

As you get older and as expectations on your playing begin to get higher, you need to remember why that sport was such a fun distraction for you. Once you get into that headspace, you will remember why you loved the sport in the first place.

7. Realize That Failure Is A Part Of Life

So many athletes deliberately damage their accomplishments simply because they are petrified of failure. The fear of failure and the longing for perfection can result in stress and wreck their performance. 

So how do you get the better of this fear? By realizing that it is a part of life. Everybody has failed and everybody will fail again. Sometimes, we do not remember that every single successful person has failed, however, they kept going after their failures. It is important to note that failure is not something that you should be afraid of, it is a part of your road to success.

8. Embrace Rituals

Something that is not discussed as much as it should be is pre-game rituals. A pre-game ritual is something that a player will do before every game. Also, players sometimes do these little rituals during halftime. They may seem weird, but players do it because they feel that they have to in order to play at a high level.

If you have some sort of pre-game ritual, do not shy away from it just because you are afraid some people will think it is strange. If it helps you get through a game, it is not strange. Welcome these rituals with open arms!

9. Chunking

“Chunking” is the concept of breaking down something intense and stressful into smaller pieces to make it more achievable, more attainable, and not as intimidating to you mentally. An excellent example of this is to chunk certain movements.

Movements can be learned and processed if they are “chunked” or are grouped into bigger movements. This grouping strengthens an athlete’s capacity to learn and perform particular skills. Of course, everyone learns and processes things at different paces so break skills down as much as you need to.

10. Put Things Into Perspective

Looking at things from a different perspective helps people see situations and problem-solve more successfully. For instance, if you are stressed about a big game that is coming up, think about how someone on your team who seems to have it together might deal with the worry. Then, attempt to tackle the problem the same way.

This will ultimately help you put things in perspective. By setting two problems side by side and comparing them to one another, it will give you a much better idea of how exactly you should deal with what is stressing you out.


It is crucial to know the signs and get help with anxiety if you feel that it is necessary. If episodes of anxiety are more than a one-time thing and commonly occur throughout the season or during times of high stress, such as particular games or meets, it may be time to seek the help of a professional psychologist.



Be sure to check out Ryan Weiss's coaching program and his other training programs to elevate your game.