Are you involved in sports and are experiencing performance anxiety? Are you unsure on how to overcoming your feelings of performance anxiety? If you answered, “yes” then sports psychology could be the plan for you in reducing your performance anxiety. To help understand where performance anxiety stems from and how sports psychology can help you reduce performance anxiety, I have interviewed psychologist Don Elligan, Ph.D.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Clinical Psychologist, author, wellness consultant, father, husband, and triathlete.”

What stems from performance anxiety?
“Performance anxiety tends to lead to compromised performance. Anxiety is a future oriented mindset that often times is negative. Negative thoughts about performance often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies or negative outcome.”

How can sports psychology help someone reduce performance anxiety?
“Sport psychology focuses on many aspects of sport performance and sport activities. However, with respect to performance anxiety the goal is to help one modify their self-doubting thoughts into a self-confirming thought. As an example; replacing the endless thoughts of all of the potential things that could go wrong with confidence building thoughts of how things will go well and how ones training or practice has prepared them to accomplish their goals.”

Would other forms of therapy be required or needed in order to maximize the positive impact of sports psychology?
“Other forms of therapy would not be required. Unless the athlete is in need of treatment for other issues.”

What last advice would you like to leave for someone who is experiencing performance anxiety?
“Performance anxiety often arises out of fear. Fear can be minimized by practice under actual performance like conditions. As an example, if you are preparing for a triathlon that includes a mass open water swim. It is best to practice open water swimming in a setting with other swimmers. Practicing in a pool by yourself may improve your swim technique but it may not resolve your anxiety about swimming in the open water with 50 other people kicking and splashing all around you. Furthermore, keep in mind that a mild amount of anxiety does not have to compromise performance and is very normal. Many seasoned athletes may experience a mild anxiety before they perform and it can enhance performance. It is when the anxiety becomes overwhelming or debilitating that it must be resolved.”

Thank you Dr. Elligan for doing the interview on how sports psychology can help someone reduce performance anxiety. For more information on Dr. Elligan or his work you can check out his website on www.drelligan.com.

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