This is a great article by Troy Bassham. He’s an archer, and everything he talks about applies perfectly to dancers (or anyone who competes at all!!!)

Overcoming Fear in Competition

Having fear while competing is not a good feeling. Often the feeling consumes the Conscious Mind and makes it harder to have a good performance. From an imprinting standpoint, this makes sense. If I am thinking about failing, I cannot be thinking about the process at the same time. I have to imprint one or the other.

Fear is something that I have struggled with during my shooting career. I was always concerned that I would not shoot well and I was afraid of how others would look at me. If I don’t shoot a good score, I will let my parents, coaches, and teammates down. By having a poor performance, it would open the possibility of other people asking me about it and how sorry I am at this sport.

If you have struggled with fear in competition then you understand the difficulty of trying to perform well in a game. It’s a place that is hard to avoid. It’s so easy to get caught up with the unknown, the thoughts about embarrassing yourself and being disappointed if you don’t do well. The reality is we don’t have to be fearful. If you have adequately prepared yourself, you should compete with confidence. Here are three steps to overcome fear.

First, get experience.

For many people fear is caused by not knowing what to expect. The second time you compete is less fearful than the first because you are more familiar with what to expect. Foreknowledge is a considerable advantage for the veteran athletes. Enter more events and look at each game as a way of gaining more and more experience, and you should be more comfortable in competition.

Second, have the attitude that whatever happens to you is supposed to happen.

If you fail and don’t perform as you should, it’s telling you something. If you win, it means you were supposed to win. When you win, it builds the Self-Image and puts you in a position of having more success. If you don’t win, it means it is time to learn from the experience. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, but when looking back, we can see that what happened opened other doors for our growth and success.

~ Nelson Mandela

My first National Championship record happened because I failed to make the World Championship Team. The World Championships and the National Championships were held at the same time. I was upset that I missed making the World Championship Team. I got caught into thinking about why this happened to me. It’s not fun missing the team by one-tenth of a point. After looking back, this was to my benefit. I was now facing the National Championships differently. I trained differently and changed my goals for the event. The result was three national titles and two team titles.

Third, you either win or learn.

This mentality helps take the results and score out of the competition. If you follow the first two steps, then winning and learning is the concern when the game ends. By focusing on winning and losing, you reduce the chances of getting better. By focusing on success, you can gain confidence in your strengths and reinforce what is working. If we learn then we can make adjustments and move forward to winning the next competition.

By following these steps, you will put yourself in a better situation to be successful. Remember, one competition doesn’t define you.

By Troy Bassham

Author of “Attainment – The 12 Elements of Elite Performance” and “Fore the Mind – The Mental Program for Golf”