Ways to ease pre-match anxiety

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Pre-match anxiety is more common than you would think. Even if there are no noticeable visible signs, many athletes experience anxiety before or even during their matches. Wrestling can be a high-stakes sport, which gives athletes many reasons to feel anxious.

However, don’t blame yourself if you are experiencing anxiety. It is a normal feeling that many humans experience and does not make you weak in any way. Nevertheless, it should be managed and treated so that it doesn’t interfere with your performance or worsen your mental health. Read on to learn more about pre-match anxiety and how to manage and treat it.

Signs You Experience Anxiety Before Your Match

If you’re not familiar with anxiety, you may not even be aware that you are experiencing it. But that lack of awareness can cause internal distress and hurt your performance in your upcoming match. If you are unsure you are experiencing anxiety, keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:

  • Tremors or shaking
  • Racing heart
  • Hyperventilation
  • Muscle tension
  • Cold sweat
  • Feeling weak
  • Clammy hands
  • Negative self-talk
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Intense fear of failure
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overthinking
  • Lowered self-confidence or self-esteem

As you can see from this list, anxiety not only manifests in mental symptoms but physical symptoms too. That’s why your body may seem off in the moments or hours before a match.

Tips To Ease Your Anxiety

The good news is that there are many ways to manage and treat anxiety. People all over the world experience this condition and utilize great strategies to stay calm and focused. Here are a few tips for managing your pre-match anxiety.

Meditation And Mindfulness

You may roll your eyes at this tip, but meditation and mindfulness are great tools to manage anxiety and remain calm and focused before a match. Mindfulness allows you to notice your thoughts, so you are more aware when anxiety creeps up.

The importance of being aware of your emotions cannot be understated. Those who are not mindful of their emotions leave them untreated or act out on them in unhealthy ways. For example, untreated anxiety may cause you to sabotage yourself before or during the match, ensuring the defeat you are anxious about. You may also take out your feelings on your loved ones or your coaches and team.

Mindfulness can be practiced at any time of day, but it is most commonly practiced during meditation sessions. Meditation allows you to set aside some time to become aware of your thoughts and calm your mind. You can quiet the inner chatter and focus on the match ahead. Athletes who practice meditation often are usually calm, collected, and focused, which brings them great success.


Visualization is another great tool that not only eases anxiety but can also boost confidence and morale. Some of the best athletes in the world use visualization to help them prepare for their matches.

So before your match, take a few minutes to visualize the experience and desired outcome. Visualize your opponent, their moves, and the moves you will use to counter them. See yourself winning and the crowd cheering to boost your morale. A session like this can convince your brain that you have already won, boosting the confidence that is necessary for a great win.

Breathe Deeply

When experiencing anxiety or other distressing emotions, we can quicken and shorten our breath without realizing it. That’s why when anxiety hits, it is essential to be mindful of your breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply brings more oxygen to your body and brain, helping to ease your body back into a state of calm.


If you are struggling to manage anxiety on your own, you may need to talk to a therapist for help. There is no shame in this. Caring for your mental health is just as important as training physically for a match. Experiencing untreated anxiety can affect your wrestling performance just as much as skipping training or exercise. A therapist will help you find the sources of your anxiety and provide strategies on how to manage those thoughts as well as produce more helpful thoughts.

Final Thoughts

Anxiety before a match is a fairly common experience. However, it is not often discussed in the sports world, especially in the realm of wrestling. But anxiety is an important condition to be aware of and treat. Hopefully, this article gave you some tips on managing your pre-match anxiety so that it no longer affects your wrestling performance.

To learn more about anxiety and find more tips for managing it, click on the link below:


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