One the most prevalent game-killers in existence is emotion. Emotions are perfectly natural and can be both wonderful and helpful. The issue does not lie in the existence of emotion but in our ability to control those emotions, or lack thereof. It is often called “emotional intelligence.”
By developing the ability to approach situations with a rational mind instead of allowing a pure emotional reaction is what allows us to adapt to any situation and overcome any obstacle. Allowing emotion to dictate every outcome and viewpoint only leads to a tumultuous ride with emotional highs and lows and no real progress towards a goal.
To be the best we must first train ourselves to be aware of the emotions we are feeling at a particular moment. Only then can we learn to use that information to fuel our success.
Follow these are three quick steps to start the process of gaining control over this area of your game:
1) Mantra before each practice and game- This is something that is often overlooked but very effective at developing new thought patterns. Choose a particular circumstance you'd like to master. Then speak as if you are that version of yourself already.
For example: You often loose your cool when a teammate makes an error. Solution: Before each practice and game you might say; "I always support my teammates no matter what happens."
The repetition of this "idea" causes you to not only be aware of what you are doing but it begins to re-program your typical course of action.
2)Break down each step to success- Before a game make a list of things that you know are effective actions to take in order to have the best chance of winning. Breaking down an entire game before-hand allows you to focus on one small step at a time instead of worrying about winning an entire game against a potentially greater opponent.
Think about how you've gotten to the level of skill you are today. Did that happen after one practice? Or did you have to go step by step to learn skills?
3)The quick fix for pre-game nerves- When this emotion of fear arises you want to attack it immediately. Chances are you wont be able to take a moment to physically write anything down so you will have to make a mental list. When the fear comes in immediately start listing the good things you have already accomplished. In all honesty you WILL NOT feel any different the very first time you do this. Understand that all of this take time to develop; just like your skills.
Doing this little exercise in the presence of fear will help remove your focus on what you haven't yet accomplished which is likely the root of the fear. Doing this repeatedly will build confidence in your potential to be great!
These three small exercises help pull us out of the emotional response thereby bringing our focus back to the things we can control. Always remember that being the best is not about eliminating "negative" emotion but rather feeling that emotion and using it to our advantage. Whenever you feel "bad" about not preforming at your best, don't beat yourself up about it just repeat these steps.