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Looking for Strategies for Dealing with Pre-Race Anxiety

Ok readers, now its your turn to give me advice. My youngest had her first swim meet of the season today and was totally overcome with anxiety after warm ups and got herself so worked up, she got physically ill. As a result, she ended up scratching all three of today’s races. By the time her first race would have started, she was feeling better, and by the time her second race rolled around she actually felt like she could have raced.

What strategies have you used to calm those pre-race nerves?

UPDATE: Day 2 of the competition went better. She still threw up before we even entered the building, but her coaches allowed her to warm up when she was ready in the second pool. Just that little gesture was enough to really calm her down. When it came time for her to race, she was a little stressed but once she was on the blocks everything was fine. She had a great first swim of the season and now has a time to use as a benchmark. I don’t think this is the last of the nerves, but now she has a few strategies and experience she can draw on next time.

Categories : Competition

3 Comments

1

Great question! It’s something that I dealt with a lot as a college coach. Granted, it’s a different age group, but I think the principle is the same. We found that our players were “overpsyching” themselves up for games. They’d end up getting nervous and would lose focus.

So we started playing Boggle with them before each game.

I kid you not. We would play a team game of Boggle for 5-10 minutes before each game. It was amazing to see how much this relaxed the players and the overall vibe in the locker room.

2

Avi – thanks for the idea. Once she got over being “ill” she and her teammates had fun playing games, doing word puzzles and goofing off. Hopefully it was just first meet jitters (although she swam summer league just fine) but anxiety in general is something she will have to work on. She gets the same way when she goes to the dentist, doctor and other stressful situations.I think learning coping strategies in sports will help her in other situations in life.

3

[…] time two years ago she had such terrible pre-competition anxiety that going to a competition was a very dramatic ordeal and often involved a lot of throwing up, […]

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