Under-activation

Often, the decrease in performance is caused by overactivation or “too much energy,” but under-activation is also detrimental to performance. Pumping-up energy is necessary when the athlete is tired, the motivation is low, when the competition is too easy, and when training is monotonous. Every athlete has a zone of optimal performance, and some athletes need to calm down during competitions and psych up during practices. Some signs of low energy are moving slowly, being easily distracted, lack of concern about performance, and lack of enthusiasm. But your mental training program can also have specific skills to help you energize before practice, doing school work, and even working at tedious jobs.

Over-activation

The intensity of energy you feel during the competition must meet the demands of the task, but sometimes, athletes will feel too much energy. The athlete’s interpretation of the energy (facilitative, debilitative) and the perception of how much control they have over the situation will lead to nervousness, distress, and/or anxiety. Some of the physical signs of too much energy are tight muscles, quickened breath, increased heart rate, and abdominal distress. Some mental signs are worrying, decreased motivation, negative self-talk, narrow focus, and poor decision-making. Other signs are avoidance, sadness, and withdrawal.

Often, athletes will hear someone telling them “RELAX.” But in reality, you do not want to eliminate what is there to help you. You just need to bring it down. And depending on the intensity of the energy you are experiencing, relaxing is impossible, and moving your attention to achieve a state that is not realistic, makes things worst.

The goal of the mental training intervention is to help athletes understand how this “energy” facilitates performance, identify the moments where the energy is too high, and use the techniques to bring it down. Biofeedback is an important tool to help athletes develop an awareness of how they are responding and learn to control their responses. Other mental skills will focus on the athletes’ thinking habits and help them train their attention.

In other words, bringing the energy down can be a little more complex than a one-size fits all “RELAX” or the breathing exercise from your yoga class. If you want to learn more about how to deal with nervousness during competitions and performance anxiety, answer the survey questions using the link https://athleticmentaltraining.com/

Andrea C. Dias, MA, ABSP

Master’s Degree in Sport and Performance Psychology

American Board of Sport Psychology; Board Certified Consultant in Sport Psychology