5 Ways To Overcome Performance Anxiety In Any Situation

The fourth quarter in the championship basketball game…

Your team is down 1 point with 1.9 seconds on the clock and you get fouled going up for a layup…

You go to the line for two free throws. The championship is on the line, the whole crowd is cheering and it’s all on you to win it…

What do you do?

LeBron James takes a free-throw in the third quarter as the crowd does it’s best to distract him. (Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

This type of scenario happens all the time in basketball as well as other sports. It is in these times that superstars prove why they are superstars and why others fold under the pressure. It is where legends are made and others fade into obscurity. Some live for these pressure situations and others avoid them at all cost.

But what if we all could handle pressure like superstars? What if pressure or anxiety didn’t affect us and we could get through regardless of where it came up in life? I’ve been in a couple pressure filled situations in my past. Some of them I came out on top and some of them didn’t go the way I wanted, but that’s a part of life. You win some, you lose some, but you always learn.

And I’ve learned a few things that will undoubtedly help you in some way to overcome sports anxiety or any kind of performance anxiety you have. Whether it’s with public speaking, stage fright, interviewing or any time pressured situation, these tips will help you start to get through it.

5 Ways To Overcome Performance Anxiety

  1. Understand Performance Anxiety- First things first, you have understand what performance anxiety is and why you experience it. Another name for performance anxiety is approval anxiety, which is just wanting to do well under “pressure” filled instances to be accepted by others. That’s all it is. We feel stress from the outcomes of our performance because we are so worried that if we mess up people won’t accept us, our teammates will hate us or we will be criticized by the coaches, fans or whoever is watching. We are constantly worried about disappointing others, which is appropriate in certain situations, but also it puts additional pressure on us to do well and takes our minds off actually doing what we need to do to be successful in whatever it is we’re doing. Understand what is prompting you to feel this pressure and take your mind completely off it. It is only pressure because your mind is telling you it is.
  2. Learn How To Be In A Peak State- Being in a Peak State or “the zone” as many people call it, is aligning your body with your mind in an energetic state and not thinking about anything, just letting things flow naturally and subconsciously. You have to find out what gets you in the zone. This is when you aren’t stressing, thinking, pondering, wondering, worrying, or anything else, your just out there letting it flow and doing whatever comes to you. The zone is the ultimate state of supreme confidence. Figure out what gets you here, whether it’s hype music, meditation, or certain breathing techniques. Maybe it’s just letting your mind be free and doing what feels natural to you. Whatever your “zone” is, find it and try to use it in every situation where you tend to feel pressure.
  3. Visualize In Reverse- A lot of times people will tell you “If you think about the negatives or the things that could go wrong, then they will.” For once, try facing every single fear you have. Trying thinking about the thing that is putting pressure on you and what would happen if those things came true. Analyze everything that could go wrong and ask yourself “is this really that bad?” As long as you aren’t in any life or death situation, I guarantee the pressure isn’t as bad as you make it seem. See every scenario that could possibly happen and understand that even if you come up short it is not the end of the world. The confident people know everything that can go wrong and ask themselves “so what?”
  4. Do What You Know How To Do- You’ve been there before. There have been times where you have performed well under pressure and came out on top. I’m sure you have already put in the work before the spotlight is on. You know what to do and what you are capable of doing. So why put extra pressure on yourself? You have to believe that your work has been enough and go out and perform like you know how. Nothing about you has changed from before and during the performance. Show up and get it done.
  5. Realize Your Performance Doesn’t Define You- One situation, one game, one performance or one instance will never define who you are or what you are capable of doing. There will be other chances to perform in life if you do mess up. There will be other chances in life if you don’t as well. It doesn’t matter. Accept any outcome that may come about and recognize that your worth and value will never be tied to one situation in your life.
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.

~Michael Jordan

Pressure-filled situations are only pressure-filled situations because you make them that way in your mind. If you take your focus away from trying please others, fearing criticism and wanted to be accepted, then you will perform the way you know how without any doubt.

Start training yourself to welcome pressure-filled situations and get comfortable being uncomfortable. The more you do this, the easier it will get over time. Before you know it, you’ll be able to perform well in any situation, at any time no matter what’s at stake or whose watching…