From speaking to different fighters and coaches there can sometimes be a stigma around ‘negative’ emotions (social media also bombards us with messages that we should be happy all the time and that stress has to be avoided at all costs).
In combat sport there can sometimes be this idea that we shouldn’t be nervous or anxious before a fight; that we should believe in ourselves 100% all the time; but really how realistic is this?
Here is the thing…
Going into a fight we have chosen to put ourselves in a position where we will get hurt; even if we win we still pick up some damage along the way.
Now, our mind and body are designed to keep us safe; it is our survival mechanism. If we didn’t have this we would have been extinct by now.
By putting ourselves in a situation where injury and pain are part of the process, as well as not having complete control over the outcome; our mind and body will naturally go into a fight or flight response.
Have you ever had ‘butterflys’ in your stomach, dry mouth, clammy hands, constantly needing the loo and feeling tired before a fight?- That is our flight or fight response.
Knowing all of this, why shouldn’t we feel stressed, nervous, worried before a fight?
It’s not these emotions that can get in the way of us performing but actually how we respond to them.
Ever found yourself more stressed when you tell yourself not to be stressed? Get more stressed when someone tells you to relax? Or get more anxious when you can’t block out thoughts or emotions?
The more we fight or try to get rid of these emotions the stronger they become.
- Are you busy telling yourself you shouldn’t be nervous?
- Are you seeing nerves as a sign of being ready for the challenge ahead?
- Are you trying to get rid of the nerves?
- Are you focusing on what you have to do despite feeling anxious?
Seeing it as a sign of being ready and a challenge does not mean we won’t feel nervous, anxious or have doubts; but it does mean we can focus our energy on what we need to do to perform instead of being caught up in our head.