Staying Calm and Composed in Paintball


Staying Calm and Composed in Paintball and Sports 

Do you ever get the feeling of fear and anxiety before a paintball tournament or other favorite sporting event?  You’re not alone. This is very common for participants and professional athletes. 

There are different kinds of anxiety, physical, emotional, behavioral, and physiological. Physical tension can include sweaty palms, rapid pulse, and muscle tenseness. Your emotions may change under stress resulting in anger, high expectations of your performance, and restlessness. 

Physiological symptoms you may experience could be headaches, gastrointestinal upsets, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate. When anxiety really gets you down prior to your game, there is a chance you will be hesitant to compete, not wanting to show up for training, or a feeling of disinterest.

Some individuals go so far as to take drugs for a calming effect which may cause disfunction to your performance. What causes anxiety in sports?  Several factors.

If you have had insufficient training, this could produce a fear of failing and make you less confident. On the flip side, you may over train. With over training, you may experience a false sense of confidence, so when you make an error, you will end up with a feeling of despair because you trained so hard, yet, didn’t perform to your expectations.

Some other causes of sports performance anxiety come from focusing on results from over training without knowing how to deal with the unexpected adversity from your opponents and problems that may arise during the game. 

If you haven’t had proper nutrition the days prior leading up to the event, or the right amount of rest, even with your best training efforts, this can have a negative effect on your optimum health for your most important day.

In summary, causes of sports anxiety include

  • Fear of failing.

  • Lack of training or over training.

  • Depending on performance results only.

  • High false expectations on yourself to win. 

  • Lack of rest and proper nutrition.

Skill level. No matter how much we train for our favorite sport, there will always be a player that performs better than you. We don’t like to face that fact, so we try to overcome and be better than we are. When you overthink your actions and strategies, it could make you under perform to your natural ability. 

Training rigorously is a physical challenge and can sometimes lead to injury. Trying to play with an injury can decrease your performance. With other real-life issues on your mind such as work, school, family matters, and more, takes away from focusing on the sport. In some cases, the sport alleviates the stress from other life issues that you have to deal with on a daily basis. 

Quiet your mind by keeping focused on simplistic methods of how to perform well, that you have learned in training, using muscle mind memory and reflexes. Rely on what you have learned in practices without overthinking when the event starts. 

Don’t stress out about making errors and not playing perfectly. We are all human and make mistakes regardless of our skill level in any sport. None of us want to under perform to our ability, in fear of letting the team down. 

Here are some tips on how to deal with sports anxiety.

  • Ample training before the event.

  • Maintain confidence and positivity.

  • Get rest and proper nutrition.

  • Communicate your feelings with your teammates.

  • Practice meditation before the game.

  • Bend and stretch to relieve tension.

  • Breathe deep. 

  • Visualize your strategy.

  • Accept errors and unexpected plays.

You may want to carry a stress ball to squeeze, chewing gum, peppermints or hard candy to give you a little energy in case you haven’t eaten due to digestive upset caused by anxiety. Bring along your ear pods and favorite jams. Listening to music can have a calming effect. 

Manage your stressful emotions by keeping your performance expectations appropriate for your skill level and training. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Have patience. The more you practice and the more time you play a sport, the better you will get. Set boundaries and your skill will increase in time. 

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Know that confidence comes with accomplishment. Keep a record of your progress. Have short term and long-term goals. Live a balanced life. Don’t let a sport take up every minute of your time. Acknowledge your anxiety and put it into perspective by taking steps that will help alleviate the stress before the game.