Mental Game Tip 10: Arousal Management in Sport Performance

Higher than optimal arousal levels for a particular skill may cause the athlete to become too anxious and begin to worry too much about the results rather than focus on the required task.  As anxiety increase so does muscle tenseness and therefore physical and mental flexibility becomes hindered.  Precision movements require flexibility as well as unconscious and automatic thoughts about play action.  A point guard forcing a pass to the post under the basket might happen if arousal levels are too high.  A baseball hitter might swing at a pitch out of the strike zone if anxiety to perform gets in the way of execution. If each of these athletes exhibit below normal arousal levels, they may lack the energy to perform a task.  Specific techniques that can help an athlete be in control of arousal levels are:

  1. The use of a pre-execution routine to center and focus energy on the task.
  2. The use of breathing techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.
  3. The use of positive self talk in support of previous success.

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