Feeling the pre-match jitters and nervousness is extremely normal. Even the most professional athletes do fall prey to doubtful thoughts, shaking legs, and pounding heartbeats. Experiencing this is extremely normal. However, what’s abnormal is suffering from too much of this or what we call in our daily lives, anxiety. If you resonate with this, the below-mentioned are some of the most effective ways of calming down your anxiety before the match. 

8 Effective ways for calming down pre-match jitters

1. Breathe deeply

Breathing deeply is one of the best ways to ground yourself and stop all the pounding which makes you feel that your heart is in your mouth. The most effective way to deep breathe is to inhale oxygen through your nose for four seconds, then exhale the air from your mouth for four seconds. Continue to do this until you feel calm and grounded.

2. Inculcate self-confidence

Working under pressure is a skill that almost everyone has to develop. It can be done by effective time management and our determination to stick to it. However, sometimes our confidence wavers when it comes to working under pressure and also giving our best. We tend to ask ourselves whether we’re fit to get through this or not? When you worry about the potential mistakes that might happen on your end or someone’s end in the game, it exacerbates your anxiety. 

Under such circumstances, we must focus on developing self-confidence. To do so, one needs to focus on their preparation and give their all in practice, and believe in their hard work. Focusing on past failures can only make you doubt yourself more, which you don’t want. Instead of focusing on these confidence debilitating thoughts, it’s more important to engage in positive visualization for calming down the anxiety. 

If you’re still facing trouble in developing self-confidence, visualize. Imagine that you’ve confidently kicked the ball in the net and the whole crowd is cheering for you. Make that vision your new reality. One way to make your vision your reality, is to show through your actions. Do the pre-game warm-up, show up as early as possible at the venue and practice all the moves that you hope to make in the game. 

3. Listen to music

Apart from reading some calming down quotes, you can also listen to music. Music is therapy for your soul. Allow yourself to feel the music and visualize where you want to be in the game. 

4. Commit yourself to a game-day routine

Developing a consistent game day routine is one of the effective ways to deal with pregame nervousness or anxiety. You can also create some game goals and comprehend which elements of the game are working for you and which ones aren’t. For starters, your game day routine should include stretching, having a healthy breakfast, waking up at a reasonable hour, consuming a healthy and energy-packed meal from one to three hours before home, and arriving early at the venue. 

5. Restructure yourself cognitively

Cognitive restructuring indicates that you bring a change in the way you think. When you are suffering from extreme episodes of anxiety, it is reflected in your body and physical appearance. This hampers an effective engagement in the play. 

Cognitive restructuring (often referred to as calming down synonyms) helps to change your negative thoughts into more positive ones. It also helps in changing your perspective towards competition. Instead of thinking of the competition as something you are supposed to win to look good or admired by everybody, perceive the competition as your practice. 

When you think about the competition as a way of winning, it puts a lot of pressure on you which overwhelms you. Instead, by thinking of competition as a practice, a lot less pressure is there on you, which plummets anxiety and hones your performance. 

Developing mindfulness helps in establishing the truth of your thoughts and feelings. This immediately helps in managing anxiety. Being alert when the negative thoughts enter your mind, can help you replace them with positive ones. 

6. Being nervous is not bad

Sometimes even meditation for calming down doesn’t help to soothe your nervousness and anxiety. You might still feel those ‘butterflies in your stomach’ and find your hands shaking just before the game. Under such circumstances, you need to understand that feeling nervous is not a bad thing. 

It’s completely normal to feel so and validating them will only make you feel all the better about your game. These feelings only reflect how much you care about the game and that you have invested yourself in it. Although you cannot control the outcome of the game, you surely can control the way you perceive it. 

7. Distract yourself

Mind you, this point doesn’t imply that you distract yourself during the game. Your full concentration and attention are required during the competition. But before the game, make sure that you talk to your teammates, listen to music as mentioned previously, talk to your family and friends; anything that helps your mind to calm down and get rid of all the negative thoughts. 

8. Finally, what can you control?

Sometimes, before the game, your mind constantly whirls some bizarre thoughts which hamper your confidence. You might worry about taking the wrong step or the whole crowd watching you. You might even worry about the efficiency of your competitors which makes you debilitate your efficiency. Now, when these thoughts whirl inside your mind, remind yourself that these and other aspects are out of your control.

It’s impossible to control what goes on around you. But what’s possible to control is what goes inside you. You can control your perception, your thoughts, and your actions. The preparation, practice, and commitment towards the game are in your hands. Therefore, instead of worrying about things that you cannot control, make sure that you focus on things you can control and work upon that. 

These are some of the most effective calming down strategies that you can apply to soothe your nervousness or anxiety before the game. Be that as it may, sometimes athletes suffer from severe bouts of anxiety which is not calmed down even with these self-help strategies. Under such circumstances, it is necessary to seek a therapist who will help you to work towards yourself and help you in cognitive restructuring. 

Recommended reading: What You Can Do When A Man Suffers From Anxiety And Depression?