Coping with Pre-competition Nerves

A degree of nervousness before competition is both normal, and helpful. It focuses and motivates you to prepare well. Your nervousness might however be considered overly intense, if:

  1. It affects your performance negatively.
  2. You generally perform better in training than in competition.
  3. It significantly affects your enjoyment of sport, or your quality of life in general.

If any of the above apply...


  • Write down your goals for your next competition / match.
  • Go through these goals, noting which are outcome goals (ie results-based such as position or time), and which are process goals (ie to do with things which are totally under your own control, eg your technique).clinton thumbsup
  • Develop your list of process goals.clinton thumbsup
  • Select your competition-day goals out of this (process-based) list.clinton thumbsup
  • Develop a pre-competition routine.clinton thumbsup
  • Where appropriate, develop smaller routines for breaks in play, eg pre-serve in tennis, preparing for the next delivery in cricket, or getting ready to kick for poles in rugby.clinton thumbsup
  • Develop your mental skills, and specifically a relaxation 'tool'.clinton thumbsup
  • Use mental rehearsal as part of your preparations.clinton thumbsup
  • Keep perspective. clinton thumbsup
  • Fake it till you make it! clinton thumbsup


  • Broadly advertize your outcome goals. If asked what your goals are, rather speak about your (controllable) process goals. This helps lessen the external pressure on you.


  • What are for you the early warning signs of being overly nervous?
  • What thought processes typically go with these feelings? clinton thumbsup
  • What is the worst case scenario as far as results go? How bad would it really be if this actually happened? In what way would it affect the rest of your life?
  • What factors might have contributed to making outcome goals so all-important to you?
  • If this were the very last competition of your life, how would you approach it?


Coping with Criticism

Coping with Perfection

Coping with Success

Coping with Negative Thinking

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