5 Strategies To Calm Your Mind Before Your Next Competition

5 Strategies To Calm Your Mind Before Your Next Competition

You’ve made it. The big day is finally here. You can feel the beads of sweat forming on your upper lip, you’ve got butterflies taking laps around your stomach, and your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest. Feeling pre-competition jitters is a normal part of the process, with anxieties and nerves creeping in for most athletes; even the professionals.

Heading into a competition having completed months of training helps get your body prepared, but knowing how to calm competition nerves is key to getting your mind in shape too. The ability to relax your mind, focus on the task ahead, and complete some mental preparation will make you feel confident once again. 

So, how do you calm your mind before your next competition?

Strategies to calm your mind before your next competition include reminding yourself of goals, completing breathing exercises, creating a pre-comp routine, channeling nervous energy, and fueling your body. Knowing how to calm competition nerves gets you focused and ready to take on the challenges of the day. 

5 Strategies To Mentally Prepare For Your Next Competition

Following a quality program, making great progress, and fueling your body with the right nutrition are only part of the battle. Pre-comp nerves usually sneak in once you step into the competition venue, and they can feel different from person to person. Sometimes it can be sweaty palms and stomach knots, for others, it can feel like a brain tornado of panic, worry, and anxiety. 

Below are some of our top strategies to calm competition nerves so you can focus more on your skills and abilities and less on mental anxieties.

Strategy 1: Remember Your Goals

We all have a ‘why’; a reason, or maybe several reasons behind what we choose to do each day. Training is no different. When you initially decided to sign up for the big competition, what were you hoping to achieve? Close your eyes, and review all of the hard work and dedication you’ve poured into your training and you’ll be reminded of why you got here in the first place. 

Visualisation can be a powerful tool so it’s ideal to include it in your pre-comp routine where your mind may wander into edgy territory. Picturing your goals, where you want to be, and what you want to achieve can help get your mind realigned and ready to show the world what you can do!

Strategy 2: Complete Breathing Exercises

When we’re feeling nervous or panicked, we’re often told to take a few deep breaths from the pit of our stomachs. Studies are backing deep breathing for relaxation so it’s worth implementing breathing exercises into your competition day for some peaceful mental preparation. 

Begin by taking a slow inhale through your nose, feeling your stomach fill with air. Then, hold onto the breath for a few seconds before releasing it through a long, steady exhale. Repeat this 3-5 times until your heart rate has calmed, and you can get your head back in the game.

Strategy 3: Create A Pre-Comp Routine

Figuring out a pre-comp routine is essential, and it’s best to implement one into your training sessions as the big day approaches. Completing a familiar set of warm-up exercises while listening to a song that gets you buzzed can be a game-changer for calming the mind, and getting you ready to tackle the challenges ahead. 

Unless you’ve explored the venue before, a competition arena can feel unfamiliar and overwhelming, so finding a quiet area and completing your usual warm-up can provide comfort and familiarity. This can also include preparing your gear or making those final fittings for things like your lifting tape and wrist wraps.

Strategy 4: Channel Nervous Energy 

Nerves can affect everyone, and if you find the stomach knots and sweaty brow aren’t subsiding, endeavor to look at your nerves in a different way. Channeling nerves into excitement may sound like a wild idea, but it’s possible, and it can be effective at calming competition nerves, maybe even leading to better performance. See your nerves as your friend! 

They are your body’s response to the situation in front of you, getting you feeling alert and ready to perform. Instead of becoming absorbed by anxieties and worries, try to focus more on what could go right. Get excited about what you are about to achieve, and how far you have come since your first practice. 

Strategy 5: Fuel Your Body Right

Nutrition and training go hand in hand. Following a quality program or training schedule is a great way to prepare, but alongside poor nutrition, progress can be affected. Good nutrition can enhance sporting performance, not to mention also making you feel energised and fuelled to tackle the requirements of any training session. 

It’s no secret that eating well can contribute to making us feel good. On the days leading up to the competition, make sure your nutrition is hitting all the elements it should, with a balance of carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This means you won’t have to worry about dealing with a grumbling stomach or poor digestion on the morning of the comp, taking at least one thing off your plate!

Closing Thoughts

Knowing how to mentally prepare for a competition is the foundation for calming competition nerves and getting you feeling confident and focused. No matter how nervous you may feel, take a few moments to appreciate how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of your goals, and the countless training sessions where you’ve grown, and surpassed what you thought you were capable of doing. Above all, trust yourself and the rest will fall into place.

Try this 5-minute mindfulness routine to help slow the mind and wash away anxieties and worries bubbling up inside. Let us know if it works for you!

  • Sit on the ground or on a chair in an upright position. Softly lower the side of your head to your shoulder and gently roll your neck clockwise. Return your neck to the starting position and repeat the motion anticlockwise. Allow your neck to fall into a natural, neutral position, and begin rolling your shoulders backward for a count of ten, and then forwards for a count of ten. 
  • From here, place both hands on your lower stomach and take a slow, deep inhale through the nose, feeling your stomach rise underneath your hands. Hold the breath for 5 seconds before gently exhaling and releasing the breath over 7-10 seconds. Repeat this breathing activity 5 times while picturing your body releasing any tension or worry with each exhale.