By Ben Baker of the American Coaching Academy.

Everyone should have a game plan for competition.

When a player consistently gets nervous in front  of a crowd or gets psyched out after making a mistake,  a contingency plan routed in sports psychology can help  them get back on track and forget the earlier problem.  Learn how to motivate your athletes by walking them through this exercise.

Each athlete should have a contingency plan that  includes the following:

* Pregame preparation
* Plan for errors during the competition
* Avoiding competitive stress

Pregame preparation should be a routine that the  player chooses that helps them focus and calm  themselves before the game. For some players,  this includes listening to music or meditating.

For some, it involves warm-up drills or visualization.  Help your players identify what gets them prepared,  focused, and confident, and work with them to create  a routine that prepares them for the game.

Errors are going to occur during competition, but the  players that have a plan for getting back on track are  more likely to bounce back and succeed. Sit down with  players to find out what motivates them after they make  a mistake.

With that knowledge, help them devise a strategy for dealing mentally with errors that happen during the game.

Perhaps they should take a few seconds to say silent affirmations, such as “I am good, I am worthy, I can do this,” or maybe they should visualize making their next play perfect. Whatever works for players is the right contingency plan.

Finally, help players avoid competitive stress by taking steps to eliminate the unknown. Explain what players should expect during every game. Work with them to channel their nerves into power.

Nerves are a natural part of competition, but those players who learn to control those butterflies in the stomach are the ones who come out as winners.

Teach players to take deep breaths, focus on one thing  at a time, and believe in themselves. With that plan,  competitive stress becomes an asset, not a liability.

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Comments
  1. Deon provitt says:

    This is an interesting approach to helping up and coming athletes. Too often athletes focus on just the positive outcomes in competitive situations and thus are not prepared for the negative outcomes…i myself used and still use music and meditation…i also know that I am human and in being such I will make mistakes…remember that a performance has many parts to it and it is the whole performance that counts..not just one part!!

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