When you’re the master of something, and the moment calls for it, you need to let your skill take over, and not allow your conscious mind to dictate your performance. This is essentially what BMT (Big Match Temperament) is in its truest form.
This pertains to a balance of the following:
- Coping Strategies
These are some of the mental qualities that are widely believed to have a key influence on performance. Not only in sport, but in many other areas too – think acting, performing music etc. Developing techniques for setting goals, relaxation and visualisation can all go a long way in achieving and maintaining your highest level of performance.
Adding to the above, big match temperament is a quality that all successful teams and athletes have. It is the way these teams and individuals handle high-pressure situations. This quality defines their success and ultimately sets them apart.
It’s performance anxiety that gets the better of some, so let’s look at how we can overcome that anxiety and perform with BMT on a more regular basis. First, let’s look at some of the symptoms of performance anxiety:
- If your pulse goes up and you start breathing rapidly
- Experiencing a dry mouth or a tight throat
- When your hands, knees, lips, and voice start to tremble
- Sweaty hands
- Sudden Nausea and an uneasy feeling in your stomach
- Impaired vision
If we learn to confront our fears and vulnerabilities, we have then taken the first step towards overcoming performance anxiety. It’s the feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and fear that tend to interfere with the athlete’s ability to deliver.
There are two major things that are the reasons for this:
- The audience (external pressure)
- The athlete has immensely elevated expectations of themselves
The audience is one thing, but it’s important for us to understand that the thoughts we have towards an event on the day can be altered through effective sports psychology work. One of the most difficult things is trying to be at your best when your inner voice is telling you otherwise.
A sports psychologist is there to help an athlete understand that these thoughts or feelings are natural but that by adhering to the following tips and working hand in hand with their sports psychologist and coaches, they can be overcome or altered:
Reducing performance anxiety prior to the event
Prior to the event, take some time to visualise your ideal performance. For lack of a better term, It’s essentially a ‘mental rehearsal’. With deep breaths, picture yourself doing everything right. Try and be as detailed as you can. Use all your senses – what you can hear (the crowd, music? Voices from your teammates), touch (what the cricket bat feels like in your hands, or the ball on your feet), smell (the stadium etc). Imagine feeling ready, that you are confident. Visualise what your self-talk is like, and your normal preparation routines. Sure, things may change during the event, but an athlete or sportsman must go into a match with this mental preparation.
Besides training, sportsman or athletes should arrive early to an event and complete a thorough warm-up. This goes hand in hand with the mental aspect. This is your quiet time. This is your opportunity to get in the zone.
Nervousness is natural
Feeling anxious and nervous before having to perform at a high-level is completely natural. Instead of trying to disregard this sensation, embrace it and use it to focus. The key is not to focus on it, but to treat it as par for the course.
Don’t focus on the outcome
This can be a challenge, but the key here is to remain present. Try not to think about the near future, or worse, the outcome of the game whilst performing. This can cloud your judgment and end up stifling otherwise instinctual reactions.
Force yourself to be positive
When thinking negatively, force yourself to think positively – this can be achieved by forcing yourself to smile and keeping yourself motivated – after all, you are doing what you love. It sounds contradictory, but you should try it. You are in charge; your mindset is your own and can easily be changed in a split second.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll notice a substantial drop in your anxiety levels. Looking at it from an empirical position, there’s obviously a lot more to it, but that is why working with a sports psychologist to quell performance anxiety is imperative.
If you’re looking for a sports psychologist for your team, or for yourself, Tom Cross from Awaremind can have extensive experience in the areas of performing under pressure and mental resilience in challenging environments.
Tom has worked at the Olympic Games, World Cups, European Championships and in professional Football, Rugby and Cricket. He has experience working with individuals, teams, coaches, performance directors and support staff, helping them to maintain consistently high performances. To find out more, get in touch or visit our site to view testimonials and case studies.