How to Reduce Sports Performance Anxiety

Stressed AthleteSports performance anxiety is one of the primary issues that athletes want help with. A certain amount of adrenaline is necessary to play well. I refer to this as a state of “heightened awareness”. You need to be excited and pumped up to a certain extent to want to perform. But when you have too much adrenaline, it turns into anxiety and can negatively affect your performance as well as make you feel miserable.

Pre-performance anxiety is caused by negative thoughts you have about your upcoming performance. Most often those thoughts are about pushing to make something happen; that feeling of intense pressure to play perfectly.

Start with This

Make a list of all your thoughts about performing. Start with the thought that creates the most anxiety and tap on that thought until it no longer feels true. Then take the next most intense anxiety-producing thought and tap on that until it no longer feels true. Continue with your entire list until you feel neutral about these thoughts. This process will help to clear out what is likely causing the majority of your anxiety.

If anxiety develops while you’re in the midst of your performance, you can discretely tap your karate chop point on the side of your leg, the end of your bat, the butt of the golf club, etc. Make sure you’re focused on what you are fearful about when you do this.

Here is a general performance anxiety protocol I developed for my athletes to use before they head out to play in any competition when they feel the need. Some of these statements may feel exaggerated to you but tap them anyway, you’ll feel better once you do. (If after you tap this protocol you still have some anxiety, tap through it one more time.)

Tapping Protocol for Performance Anxiety

Tap Karate Chop Point while repeating 3 times:

“Even though I’m holding this anxiety in every cell of my body, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”

Now repeat one statement at each point as you tap:

  • I always feel so anxious before I play
  • I can’t focus or think clearly
  • Sometimes I feel sick to my stomach I have so much anxiety
  • My conscious mind focuses on the future rather than in this current moment
  • My conscious mind starts to make up stories about the trouble I’ll have
  • I’m afraid I’ll play poorly
  • I feel like I have to push and make something happen today
  • I think I have to play perfectly today
  • I’m afraid to go out and play
  • I am so tired of always feeling this anxious before I perform
  • My anxiety feels overwhelming at times
  • The stories I’m making up about what may happen out there are so negative
  • I’m only  focused on all the things that could go wrong
  • I’m having trouble seeing what I do right when I perform
  • If I don’t play perfectly it doesn’t count
  • I have to go out there and make it happen
  • I’m not focused on how I want to perform today
  • I have too much adrenaline in my cells and I can’t calm down
  • I can’t get my mind to calm down so I can take the actions I need to take
  • I can’t get my body to calm down so I can focus in this present moment
  • I forget to take deep breaths when I’m anxious
  • I don’t even realize that my breathing is shallow
  • I’m focused on what could go wrong rather than what could go right
  • I have to play perfectly and make something happen today

Tap Karate Chop Point while repeating:

“I give my body permission to release this anxiety from every cell. My body can choose to relax and let go of this anxiety. My body can relax and let go of having to make something happen today. I give my body permission to release this anxiety from every cell membrane and cell receptor site.”

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“It really doesn’t matter whether you believe it or whether you understand it, you just have to do it because it works. Results happen many times immediately and end up being permanent.”

- Tyler Green, Retired Player, Pitched for Philadelphia Phillies

"As an athlete, working with Stacey helped me on and off the field. Through tapping on issues about baseball I was able to free myself of old injuries, hang-ups, and bad habits.

Tapping on off-the-field issues has changed my life and opened my mind up to a new world. It has given my body and mind the freedom you need as an athlete to focus and perform at the highest level."

- David Bell, Major League Baseball Player

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