How to Handle Pressure in Sport

How to Handle Pressure in Sport

Sports and exercise have a number of great benefits, including improved mental health, better physical fitness and the ability to work as a team. It teaches an individual to become more resilient, overcome difficult challenges and learn how to effectively control emotions. However, as the stakes become higher, so does the pressure to succeed. Many feel stress during sports competitions and put a lot of pressure on themselves. Therefore, it is important to know how to handle this pressure, harnessing it and allowing it to improve and not hinder your performance.  

Strategies to Deal with Stress in Sports While You Are Competing

Every individual handles stress in sports differently, and there is no one way that fits all. Many find themselves experiencing stress while competing in the middle of an important match. Below are some of the most effective ways to combat stress, so try some out and see which way works best for you. 

Breathing Techniques

Firstly, relaxing your breathing can help reduce your heart rate and calm your mind. Take deep breaths, holding the air in your chest for at least five seconds. When you breathe out, do this slowly and calmly. Repeating this multiple times will help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  

Meditation & Mindfulness

To help you stay calm during a competition, imagine yourself in your happy place, where you feel at peace. This will help calm your stress as you feel it moving away from your body, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. It is important that you focus on only the present and not what has worried you in the past.  

Building a Strong Routine

In the run-up to your competition, build a solid routine that can help you stay focused on the task at hand. This will make you feel like you are fully prepared and ready to tackle anything that is thrown at you, meaning that your stress levels will be reduced. Good things to build into your routine include stretching and meditation. 


Having a positive mindset can make all the difference when trying to combat your stress. It is important to acknowledge that you will make mistakes from time to time and that you can learn from these mistakes to improve. Additionally, positive affirmations where you lay out your goals are a great stress reliever and telling yourself these can increase your beliefs.  

How to Reduce Stress Outside of Competition

As well as using some of the techniques listed above, there are other ways to reduce stress within your everyday life. For example, ensuring that you have a good sleep routine and a healthy diet can help improve your mental health and physical health. 

Taking a break from your training is also advised, as this gives your mind some time to relax. Consider spending time with your family, practising your hobbies or reading a book – something to take your mind off the stresses you may be feeling.

The Take-Away

Sports have several great benefits; however, they do come with their own unique stresses. Competition is like no other feeling, and those who do not compete may not understand the pressure you are feeling. To help combat this stress, it is important to take time to yourself, understanding that you will not be successful all the time and that this is ok. Stress is natural, but we hope the techniques listed above can help you manage it better.