Nerves are not bad!

Nerves are not bad!

Ok so, we touched little bit on pre-game/pre-selection nerves on my last blog but I think it’s an important topic to go into. Its the one question I get asked about a lot! Do you get nervous before you play? How do you deal with nerves? First of all I think the biggest myth to bust here is that all nerves are bad!!!! NERVES ARE NOT BAD! Nerves are something we shouldn’t be afraid of! Having nerves DOES NOT automatically mean that you are going to have a bad game!

Full disclosure; when I was younger I would get extremely nervous before playing/training, I mean so nervous to the point where I’d vomit before games and feel spewy before training. My body would get the shakes and I’d feel like I was out of control of my muscles, go all floppy and feel very heavy in my legs! **insert Eminem song lose yourself** I’ve been there, I feel you!!! So I’ve done a lot of personal investigation in this area to help me understand what the deal is! By investigation I’ve seen several sports psyches over my journey, acted with curiosity when these feelings came up and talked to lots of team mates and coaches! What I’ve come up with is that it's not the nerves that are an issue, it's “how I perceived what they might mean and then how I responded to them”. I've tried numerous strategies to see what works best for me depending on my level of excitement/ anxiousness that day and what gets me in my peak mindset for that game. To be honest, these are probably some of the best skills I’ve learnt that contributed to me being my best personally and professionally. Particularly in those moments when your getting put on the court in the third quarter in a a World Cup Gold medal match. There's no time to let nerves effect your performance!

A coach once said to me ‘nerves are good, it shows that this means something to you’ and that really resonated with me. It shed a a positive light on these nerves that I always looked at as ‘bad’. So it isn’t all doom and gloom, I started to view the nerves I was experiencing as a sign of how much I actually cared about my team, the game and my performance. Which actually is a really great quality to have, as long as you use it your advantage. This got me reflecting and looking back on the best games I’ve had are probably when I’ve felt most nervous. The adrenalin was pumping through my veins and giving me that extra boost of energy. The moment I realised it wasn’t the nerves that was the problem it was the way I perceived them, shifted my whole prospective. If you speak to your team mates I bet 9 out of 10 of them would all get nervous before a game (whether they will admit it or not).

Shifting the perspective to how you view your nerves and using them as tool to get the best out of yourself can help get rid of the dread of feeling them. Learning how to channel these feelings into a positive experience can help you to achieve your goals and desired performance. This takes practice! These days I feel worried when I’m not nervous (go figure), how things have changed from the pre-game vom days :). Its all easy to say though right? Hard to do when you're feeling the adrenaline pumping in your veins and a million things racing through your mind before the big game and some one says “just relax”. It's almost insulting. You almost feel like saying “yeah mate I’m kind of trying to and it isn’t that easy”. It's the biggest challenge in these moments to feel like you have control over anything. This where the good old saying “control the controllable’s” comes into good stead. The only thing you can control is YOUR actions.

Reality bomb: You cannot directly predict or control the the result of the game no matter how much you stress about it. So why waste any energy thinking about all ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’ on the end result which you cannot realistically do anything about at this time. You can only control what YOU do. Your actions in the moment play by play. The only way to get your desired result (e.g. having a great game or winning) is by focusing on what actions you need to do moment by moment. If your doing these actions moment by moment it will give you the best chance to fulfill your goal! And hopefully get you a win!!! So be really specific and clear with what these actions are. A old team psyche introduced me to a great way to bring it back to basics, the E.E.A analogy: the energy you bring to the game, the effort you give in the game, the attitude you have during the game. Think about it, these 3 things are all in your control put your focus here! Write down a goal/action you can focus on for each. So 3 all up. An example might look like: 1.ENERGY- e.g. positive talk in the warm up/game 2.EFFORT e.g. chasing after any loose balls 3.ATTITUDE e.g. Positive , encouraging body language to team mates - *if my attitude was contagious would anyone want catch it?

*Too many times have I seen frustration/negative vibes run through a team when something doesn’t go the teams way, which then can escalate to effect whole quarter, which then effects the games outcome. Post Game Review how you went on each of these points. Remember the best of the best get nervous, you are normal! Nerves don’t have to be your enemy, embrace them and use them to your advantage to get what you want. Practice , Practice , Practice. I could go on for days about this stuff but I think I’ll wrap it up. Peace Out …….. literally :) Have a great week. AB X