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UK Coaching Team
Developing Mindsets

How to Handle Performance Anxiety

Chartered Sport Psychologist Dr Josie Perry explains the BRAVE process she uses to support individuals to feel better able to take on their chosen challenges, a useful tool for helping participants reach their potential

Dr. Josie Perry specialises in supporting athletes, stage performers, and professionals who struggle with performance anxiety.

Sometimes, in a physical activity or sport, it’s logical to be afraid.

For example:

  • If a gymnast is trying a new, potentially risky move, they may fall and physically hurt themselves.
  • If a rugby player decides to run into a breakdown and grab the ball they might get injured during the collision.
  • If a cyclist is descending a mountain with no barriers and an uneven road surface, there is a chance they will crash.

When working with participants with these kinds of fears, it’s important to remember they are rational fears and should be accepted and validated.

Your role as a coach is to continue to do what you do all the time through support and challenge; reduce those fears through purposeful skill development, and gradually stretch the participant out of their comfort zone.

A far more difficult type of fear for participants and their coaches to manage is when the fear isn’t a physical risk but is instead a psychological one.

For example:

  • What if I try and fail?
  • What if I work hard at the skill and simply cannot do it?
  • What if I give everything, train hard, attend all the sessions and I am still not selected? What if I am judged? And if I fail does that mean I am a failure?  

We call this performance anxiety.

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UK Coaching Team