Competition season has officially started, and with that comes competition nerves and pressure. Handling pressure that comes with competition is a skill that needs practice just as much as the skills themselves. Here are some tips on how to deal with nerves that come with competition pressure:
1. Visualize routines
Studies show that visualization works just as well as physical practice. Going through routines in your mind everyday benefits just as much as practicing them. Your brain doesn't know the difference!
2. Use keywords
Attaching keywords to skills can help you stay more focus on the task at hand instead of getting overwhelmed by pressure. Keywords can include one word to a short phrase that helps you stay in the moment. Some examples are "straight" or "tight", things coaches commonly say out loud, or a correction you've been focusing on.
3. Choreograph breathing into your routines
Ever heard your coach ask "are you breathing?" only to realize you've been holding your breath? Not only does oxygen helps your muscles function to the best of their ability, but breathing can also help you stay relaxed and in the moment. It helps calms nerves, therefore it's beneficial to figure out exactly when you'll take a breath in your routine.
4. Have a plan
Having a plan for things that pop up will help you not have as many surprises during an actual competition. Fall off the beam? Have a plan. Miss a requirement on bars? Have a plan. Knowing how to deal with these things beforehand will help you stay calm for when something unexpected happens. 5. Set Process Goals, not Outcome goals Setting goals about the process instead of the outcome will help you stay more calm, focus, and in control. Instead of setting goals about winning, try setting goals on remembering certain corrections, hitting skills, sticking routines, etc.