(This is a guest article by Stan Popovich)
Many athletes sometimes get anxious when they play against a tough opponent. Here is a list of techniques to help manage the stress of playing against tough competition.
1. Learn as much as you can about your opponent. Remember, there is always something to learn about your competition. Read the stats and reports about your opponent and watch him or her play. Try to figure out an angle on how you can beat your competition. The more you know about your competition the better your chances are are of winning. This also helps reduce your worries about who and what you will be facing in your next game.
2. Focus on how you can best strive for perfection in your own game instead of worrying about your opponent. For instance, imagine you are playing the number one player in the tournament and you get a bad case of nerves. Instead of focusing on how good the competition is, focus on how you can play your best game. Concentrate on how you play better or how you can best improve on your problem areas. Focusing on your game helps calm the nerves when playing against a stronger player.
3. Realize that you cannot win all of your games and that also includes your competition. You may be the best player in the world, but you will still lose eventually. No one wins all of their games.
4. Do not assume anything about your competition, such as whether they are stronger or weaker than you. Every player has good and bad games and just because you may be facing a stronger opponent does not mean that you will lose. Remember that before you start playing, you and your opponent both have an equal chance of winning. You are both starting from scratch. This should help you to give you confidence going into your next game.
It is not uncommon to get nervous when you play a better opponent. Remember that some games will be easy to play and some games will be more difficult. All you can do is to focus on your game and play the best you can. This will help you in the long run and will help you to stop worrying whether you will win or lose.
Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: www.managingfear.com or reach him via email.