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get mental: erika carlson

3 ways to manage pregame jitters

Curious what the most common reason is that athletes seek mental training services? Pre-game nerves. That’s right, the same thing you have felt so many times. The jittery feeling in your body (part excitement, part fear), tense muscles, excessive thinking about “what if…” (fill in the blank here), and dread about not wanting to let down teammates, coach and parents. Sound familiar? While some athletes have stronger “trait anxiety” (predisposition towards nervousness and anxiety) most athletes can relate to feeling nervous at times. Here are a few top tips for handling your pre-game nerves so you’re confident and ready to play (pitch, hit, swim, run, etc.) your best!

Be prepared

The night before a competition, take the time to pack your equipment, water bottle and organize your uniform. This will help you arrive at your competition feeling prepared rather than rushed and stressed.


Every time you feel butterflies flying around in your stomach, slow down your breathing, taking longer, deeper breaths. It’s one thing you can stay in control of even when you’re nervous. Hint: the butterflies may arrive long before you arrive at your competition. Start managing them early and often.

Imagine a great performance

Imagery is a skill that separates good athletes from great athletes. Those who use imagery get more “quality reps” than those who don’t. Detailed imagery puts your nervous system to work and helps you to create correct responses that are more likely to hold up under pressure. ✪

Erika Carlson is a certified mental trainer and owner of Excellence in Sports Performance in Pleasanton.



April 18, 2013

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BA Issue 64, April 18, 2013  

Bay Area Issue 64, April 18 2013

BA Issue 64, April 18, 2013  

Bay Area Issue 64, April 18 2013