Tough opponent? Don't get beat before you begin play

Many players sometimes get anxious when they play against a tough
opponent. They get nervous over who they are playing and they get so
worked up that they lose focus on their game. In the end, they
make mistakes and end up beating themselves up if they do not
win.
Here is a list of techniques that an athlete can use to help manage the stress of playing against good competition.

The first step is to learn as much as you can about your opponent.
Although this may seem obvious, some players may think they already
know everything they need to know. 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 an angle that will
help you win. The more you know about your competition the better your
chances are you will win the game. This will also help to reduce your
worries about who and what you will be facing in your game.
Do
not assume anything about your competition, such as whether they are
stronger or weaker than you. Every player or team has good and bad
games. Just because you may be facing a stronger opponent, that doesn’t
mean you will necessarily lose. You are both starting from scratch.
Remember this and it should help give you confidence going into your
next game.
Focus on how you can best strive for perfection in
your own game instead of worrying about your opponent. For instance,
let’s say you are playing the number one team in the tournament and you
are nervous. Instead of focusing on how good your competition is, focus
on how you can play your best game.
Give yourself some pep
talks during the game. Take advantage of the breaks you get by giving
yourself encouragement. For example, there is a break and you are
making a lot of mistakes.  During this time out, tell yourself that you
need to settle down. Remind yourself that you can do it, that you just
need to relax. This can help reduce your stress and anxiety.

View a particular game as a learning experience when things don’t work
out. For example, if you are making a lot of mistakes and the game is
out of reach, instead of beating yourself up, try to figure out what
you are doing wrong. The best time to improve on your game is when you
deal with adversity.
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 about whether you will win or
lose.

This article was submitted by Stan Popovich, author of
“A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and
Non Resistant Methods”. For additional information go to: www.managingfear.com