8 Techniques Athletes Use To Overcome Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety can hit athletes hard right when they need to be at their peak. First and foremost, it’s about chemical reactions in your body. But fear not! Athletes have honed several techniques to tackle this head-on and ensure their minds and body are in the right place when it counts. Let’s explore how they do it.

The Chemistry of Performance Anxiety

Imagine your body has a built-in alarm system. This thing is supposed to go off when you’re in trouble. Then, your body pumps out these stress hormones — adrenaline and cortisol.

The whole adrenaline-cortisol response kicks off in your brain. There’s this tiny part called the amygdala. It spots what it thinks is trouble (like the big game or a crucial performance) and signals your body to release stress hormones.

Adrenaline gets your heart racing so you can run faster or fight harder. Cortisol gives you a sugar boost for extra energy. Great for escaping danger but not so great when precision, focus, and calm are what you need to score those points.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. This whole reaction — the sweaty palms, racing heart, brain freeze — it’s all automatic. But (and it’s a big but), you can learn to manage it. You can’t stop it from going off, but you can turn the volume down. And that’s what tackling performance anxiety is all about.

8 Techniques Athletes Use To Overcome Performance Anxiety

1. Breathing Exercises

Slow breathing can become the ultimate remote control for chilling out your stress levels. When the pressure is on, and your heart feels like it’s about to beat out of your chest, those shakes won’t quit. That’s when slow, deliberate breaths are your secret weapon. There’s a science behind them: slowing down your breath stops the adrenaline rush and brings everything back to a manageable pace.

And it’s simple to do! Breathe slowly through your nose, count to four in your head, hold that breath for a second, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to four again. It’s about filling your lungs, taking control of the tempo, and then letting the air out like you’re deflating a balloon.

2. Natural Remedies for Stress

Here’s where we get into the more natural ways to ease nerves. Nature is rich in soothing remedies, but for now, I’ll discuss the three most common options for athletes.

  • Essential Oils

Extracted from herbs and plants, essential oils are a non-intoxicating way to ease anxiety. They help to regulate mood and stress. So, it’s a go-to for athletes who seek a gentle nudge back to calm down.

  • Delta 8

Hemp-derived cannbinoids might be a good fit for you to find relief. But first, let’s discuss the delta 8 vs weed difference. Many mingle the two and think they are identical. Indeed, while both come from the cannabis plant, delta 8 is distinct from your typical weed (which is rich in delta 9 THC). By contrast, delta 8 offers a milder, clearer-headed experience without the overwhelming effects.

  • Herbal Teas

I can’t overlook the power of a good herbal tea, too. Chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm teas can soothe the mind, reduce stress, and even help with sleep. It’s a simple, accessible way to invite peace into your routine.

3. Visualization

Here’s a secret: your brain has difficulty telling the difference between real and imagined. Athletes use this trick by picturing themselves acing their performance, down to the smallest detail. Thus, by the time they’re actually performing, their brain’s like, “Oh, we’ve got this. Done it before.”

4. Routine Rituals

Ever seen athletes with those quirky pre-game habits? There’s a method to the madness. These little rituals create a bubble of familiarity to make everything outside — the crowd, the pressure, the stakes — fade into the background. It’s all about turning the unfamiliar into familiar territory.

5. Mindfulness and Meditation

We all can worry about what-ifs. During such moments, mindfulness yanks you back to the present. It trains your brain to focus on the here and now, not potential mistakes or the final score. It’s about owning the moment, not letting your mind race ahead or lag behind.

6. Physical Prep

Knowing you’ve put in the work — from training to nutrition — sets a solid foundation of confidence. When your body feels primed and ready, your mind tends to follow suit. Then, you abandon those pesky doubts on whether you’ve done enough to succeed.

7. Support System

It’s tough going solo. That’s where your squad comes in — coaches, teammates, even sports psychologists. Having folks to bounce ideas off and share concerns with can wipe away performance anxiety. It’s the strength of the team that can carry you through personal doubts.

8. Goal Setting

Ever feel overwhelmed by the big picture? Break it down. Setting smaller, achievable goals helps keep your focus on your next achievement, not some distant dreams. It’s about making success feel attainable, one small victory at a time. Each step forward is a confidence boost, a mini-win on the way to the big goal.


With these strategies, you’ll learn to turn those nerves into focus, energy, and, ultimately, success. Whether it’s through breathing, visualization, or even exploring natural remedies, the key is finding what works for you.