Sports Tryouts Coming Up? Try These 3 Tips to Mentally Prepare

By Teresa Schmidt

As summer comes to an end, students are preparing to head back to school, which also means the approach of fall sports tryouts. Regardless of age, almost all athletes experience nervousness and stress during and before tryouts. Anxiety and stress can affect an athlete’s mental performance and tryout outcomes just as much as physical preparation. As a college field hockey player, I’ve gained an interest in how to increase sports performance by preparing mentally & relieving anxiety. Here are a few things I’ve found to be useful.

3 Tips to Mentally Prepare for Sports Tryouts:

1. Let go of perfectionism. Instead of beating yourself up after a bad play, focus on how you can recover in the next play. Mistakes are a part of playing sports and are plentiful in each game, match or meet. When an athlete makes a mistake, holding onto that mistake only serves as a distraction moving forward. The athlete can recognize their mistake, move on, and focus their energy on how they can improve in the next play. 

2. Don’t compare yourself. Sports tryouts can bring together a unique combination of athletes, each possessing different, valuable skills. Athletes can get caught up in comparing their own skills and talents with other athletes. This distraction can cause athletes to lose confidence in their own strengths and abilities and cause them to second guess their own performance. It is okay to take note of the skills and talents of others, but do not let their strengths cause you to doubt your own abilities… they might even be thinking the same thing about you!

3. Don’t hold back. In high stress situations, it can be easy to resort to overthinking. However, overthinking can impede an athlete’s ability to play intuitively and go with the flow of the game. Try to have a performance mindset that allows you to rely on your preparation and training, and don’t try to tailor your performance to those around you. 

There are many more tools to improve your performance through strengthening your mental game, including anxiety management, tools to increase focus to “get in the zone,” and to love your sport more. The Center for Mindfulness and CBT will be offering a Mindfulness Workshop for Athletes on August 15 from 10am-1pm that will help provide athletes with mindfulness tools heading into the fall sports season. More information about the workshop can be found here: Mindfulness Workshop for Athletes. 

Good luck to all athletes!

This post was written by Teresa Schmidt, a summer intern at The Center for Mindfulness & CBT, who plays field hockey for Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.

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