"You’re not the only one"

It’s not uncommon to be nervous before a tryout, game or even a practice. I’ve been playing football for 30 years as a quarterback and I still get nervous, sometimes I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Life is constantly changing and we are faced with challenges everyday; so building a mental strategy can be key to owning your nerves. This isn’t a blanket solution, this is what works for me.

No matter the level of football you play, nerves are normal. Mastering your nerves can take time so be patient and compassionate with yourself. Performing under pressure is a mental game and similarly to catching a football it takes practice and repetition. 

Here are a few things I do before a game to ease my nerves: 

I take time for myself. Getting up early before a game is important so I don’t feel rushed. During this time I’ll do my shoulder exercises. While doing my shoulder exercises I focus on my breath work. Breathing exercises help steady my heart rate. I also set a goal for myself, something very small and achievable.

Focus on yourself and not what others will be doing. So essentially I don’t compare myself to anyone else and I just concentrate on me.’ I stay away from negative talk and I stick to my game plan. I also find a good listener, a confident, a person who’s got my back.

Lastly, and so important is nutrition. Seems like common sense to eat but when I'm nervous I'm not hungry. I prioritize eating a meal and hydrating before a game. If I don't eat I'll feel terrible later and I won't be as acute during my performance. Make it a habit!

Developing your own strategies to reduce nervousness can help keep you calm and permit you to focus on your performance as an athlete. Take the time to find what works for you and seek professional help if needed. 

Coach Steph

Ottawa Women's Football founder and coach of youth and women's flag football in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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