The level of stress experienced prior and during competitions, is one of the most important factors affecting performance results.
Stress is an emotion, a response to the way we perceive and evaluate a situation (f.ex. a competition). The athlete enters a state of stress, which is felt either as a dangerous and negative arousal (distress), or is perceived as a challenge in a positive and creative way (eustress). Pole Dancing and other Aerial Acrobatics, are no different.
Some of the factors that usually built up pre-competition anxiety are:
- Fear and Doubt for the contest results
- Personality traits (f.ex. If you are an “Anxious” type)
- Fear of negative evaluation by the “significant others”
- Fear of getting injured
- Incomplete Preparation
- Last minute changes
If the athlete feels that he/she has no control over his/her anxiety levels, then this belief will affect his/her performance in a negative way. If on the contrary, the athlete feels he/she can control stress and use it to his/her own benefit, then stress is experienced as readiness, a positive arousing state, facilitating performance.
Pre-competition anxiety is mentally perceived and physically felt.
Talking about physical, we know that when under stress, the balance between Sympathetic (SNS) and Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is disrupted.
In practice, this imbalance is translated to some well known physical symptoms, such as
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing, high perspiration, tremors, stomach problems.
Stress can be mentally triggered by
- The person’s negative expectations of success
- The person’s negative self – evaluation
Mental stress causes anxiety which affects attention, clear thinking, perception, and other cognitive processing, resulting in the athlete making mistakes, brought into a state of confusion and panic.
In conclusion, pre-competition stress affects athletes either negatively or positively.
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In order to turn the negative feelings and thoughts into positive and get psychologically ready for the contest, try the following:
How to get mentally ready for a competition
Recognize the importance of your brain power and its influence on your performance
The adoption of a positive self -talk and thinking, will make you feel mentally powerful and increase your self-confidence.
Don’t stay stuck in your mistakes
Stop constantly criticizing yourself. Visualize success and stay focused on that.
Keep in mind that confidence is built up by the way we think, on by here we keep our focus and how we react to various events.
Reinforce your optimism
Believe that your previous good performance is a direct result of your effort and that this can be repeated and expanded to a number of aspects (other competitions, other facts of life).
Chase your dream
Believe that you can succeed the impossible and work hard to do the outstanding!
Focus on success
After every training, think of the progress you made, of any new achievement. Feel that you have pushed yourself beyond your limits.
Become your best friend, your biggest admirer and your greatest coach!
Visualize the most important person you ever had in life, the one who gave you the most encouraging advice and put yourself in that position.
References: Eastbrook, J.A. (1959). The effect of emotion on cue utilazion and the organization of behavior. Psychological review, 66, 183-201. Endler, N.S. (1978). The interaction model of anxiety: Some possible impications. In D.M.Landers & R.W.Christina (Eds.), Psychology of motor behavior and sport-1977 (pp. 332-351). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Hanin, Y.L. (1980). A study of anxiety in sports. In W.F.Straub (Ed.), Sport Psychology: An analysis of athlete behavior (pp. 236-249). New York: Mouvement Publications Martens, R., Vealey, R.S., & Burton, D. (1990). Competitive anxiety in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics