If there is one thing that people say to me causes the most problems with their badminton, it's nervousness.
You might be playing really well in practice, and your confidence levels going into an important match of tournament might be really high.
But then on the day, you start worrying about what's going to happen, your palms get sweaty and the mere prospect of going on court starts you wishing you were somewhere else!
Well fear not, for I have a simple tip that I hope will help with this.
Now, think for a mintue about what happens when you get nervous.
You might get the sweaty hands, the 'butterflies in the stomach' that we all (even the very best players) get from time to time.
But THEN what happens?
You think 'oh no, I'm so nervous, I'm never going to be able to win this game' and you try to relax and stop feeling nervous.
Which makes a lot of sense.
It's only natural that the first thing we think of when we get nervous is how we can stop getting nervous!!
But it isn't the being nervous that causes the problems, but the worrying about what being nervous might lead to.
And so what we need to do is to cut off the step from being nervous to worrying about being nervous, and we will as a result stop the negative things that are happening, such as not playing as well as we could do.
But how does this happen?
Simply by changing the thoughts that you get when you feel the first signs of nervousness.
The 'butterflies' in the stomach happen, and normally that would be seen as a bad thing. But there is no reason to do this - the butterflies (and all other means of being nervous!) are there to protect you, to warn your body that what is going to happen is something that is out of your 'comfort zone'.
It is when we decide to ignore them or try to stop them that the trouble begins.
If you simply acknowledge that they are there, be thankful that they are there to protect you, and view them as a good thing, you will be well on the way to combatting the nervousness.
Because nervousness is OK.
I like to think of nervousness as a sign that you are really living your life (and more importantly your game!).
Your badminton isn't going to improve if you're not going to put yourself into situations that scare you, that make you nervous and give you the butterflies.
So if that is happening, it means you are doing just what you need to do to take your badminton to the next level.
And that HAS to be a good thing!
So, whenever you next get nervous when you are playing badminton, remember that it is simply your body reminding you that you are doing just what you need to do to get better!
Next time we look at turning this nervous energy into a positive, badminton-improving energy that will take your game even higher.
25 October 2007