Mental Training

Pre-Race Jitters

Pre-Race Jitters

Sarah Seads, BA Kinesiology

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Q: HELP! How do you get rid of pre-race jitters? 

Pre-race jitters are very common amongst racers and competitors in all categories and types of events. This anxiety can become so overwhelming for some people that they decline to race at all!

You may think it sounds crazy but I believe that pre-race jitters are a GOOD thing. That’s right! People who feel anxious before racing often put great importance on how they perform…aka race performance pressure.

The key is to take this nervous energy and channel it into positive energy to fuel your race. Learning to calm your pre-race ‘energy’ to a manageable level and training yourself to believe this is a positive (not a negative) are two very important steps.

Race day visualization, positive mantras and deep breathing for relaxation are all excellent techniques to help keep race day jitters under control.

Here is a visualization for Confidence from the Tao of Sports, that you may want to try:

“In a relaxed state, recall a time when you felt confident of your ability to perform. This may have been in a practice session or during the "heat" of competition. Feel a sense of oneness with your sport; your play is a natural extension of the greatness within you. Feel the exhilaration and satisfaction of perfect execution. Take this feeling and pair it with an anchor, such as the circle formed by pressing your index finger and thumb together. This is your reference point for the feeling of confident play. Use it during moments when your confidence wanes. Now, with anchor in place, imagine yourself just prior to an upcoming performance. See yourself calm and confident. Enter the arena of play, and perform exactly the way you know you can. This is the state of being truly confident in your ability to perform well- under any circumstance.”

Good luck and practice, practice, practice!

Sarah Seads B.A. Kinesiology, is the owner of Equilibrium Lifestyle Management, based in the Comox Valley. ELM provides fitness and recreational services including injury rehabilitation, personal fitness training, fitness and lifestyle assessments, Fitness Bootcamp, ELM Women Only clinics and other Fitness Adventures. For more information please contact ELM at 338-8998 or check out