How do you deal with competition nerves? Top tips from Robine
24 februari 2022 
4 min. read

How do you deal with competition nerves? Top tips from Robine

How do you deal with competition nerves during a gymnastics competition? I share with you my best tips that I use for my gymnastics competitions.


The gymnastics competition

The competition is what you have been training for for so long. Repeating all the elements, repeating them and repeating them again. The countless exercises you have to do and every time you fall you have to do them again. Everything is going perfectly in the training, but then that competition comes. You think you'll be fine, because it went well in the training too.

Nerves on the night before the match

Then comes the evening before your competition. The tension starts to build up and you can't sleep, but you do need sleep to be able to have a good night's rest during the competition. In the end, you fall asleep anyway. The next day, you are even more nervous than the night before. You get ready and then the moment arrives: the competition. You are so nervous. But you don't have to be because you know your exercises and you know you can do them, but still they are there.

Nerves during the gymnastics competition

You start your competition, only it turns into a complete disaster. You fall off beam three times and forget your floor exercise. Those stupid nerves, but what can you do about it? I am a gymnast myself and have been practising for 10 years. I am nervous before every competition. Sometimes I was nervous a week beforehand and sometimes only on the day of the competition. You know you can do it, but you're still nervous. This is particularly annoying on the beam because it is only ten centimetres wide and one vibration and you fall off.

I fell off the beam many times at the competition. Because I fell off the beam so often, I hated the beam. I told myself I couldn't do it. This did not help of course, because you think it is stupid you are not concentrated and still nervous so you fall off.

In the end, I came to love the bar. Not literally of course, but I stopped saying that I hate the beam. Because I stopped hating the beam and told myself I could do it, I was less nervous. As a first-year senior, I fell off the beam zero times out of four competitions while when I was a second-year junior, I fell off the beam three times out of five competitions and almost fell off the beam once. This season, unfortunately, I only competed in one event, but I didn't fall off the beam then either.

Tips for competition nerves at gymnastics competitions

What can you do about your nerves? Of course, being a bit nervous is good, but if you have too many nerves, it can work against you. Do not try to tell yourself I can't do it, I won't succeed anyway. This will make you believe it and you only get more nervous. If you 'hate' a device, start loving it. Not literally, but try to like it. Because you like the apparatus, you will go through your exercises more easily and you will be less nervous. Also try to sleep well during the week/day. Even if you can't sleep. Stay in your bed. If you get out of bed or, for example, go on your phone, you are not resting. If you just lie down without sleeping you will also rest.

The right nutrients

Eating is also very important. If you can't eat because of the tension try to eat anyway. For example, you can eat something liquid like a nice smoothie. You do need enough nutrients and energy for a competition. Try not to eat too unhealthy because that is not good. You also need to keep drinking. Sometimes you think you are hungry, but your body is actually telling you to drink something.

During the race it is also important to drink well and, if you can, to eat something. Think of a piece of fruit or a muesli bar. If you are very nervous, you should actually try to calm down again. You can do this with breathing exercises or yoga. You can also think about nice things and not too much about the competition. You might have to drive a long time to the competition.

Find distraction and use visualisation

In the car, you are driving yourself crazy and only getting more nervous. It may help to listen to your favourite music or talk to your parents. During the match, it may help to visualise your exercises. Visualising means going through the exercise in your head. You can close your eyes and see yourself doing the exercise, or you can sit in yourself and experience the exercise. You can also do your bar on a line. Of course, you cannot then do all your elements on a hard floor, but you can go through your choreography.

Setting realistic goals

Finally, you can set a goal for yourself. Sometimes this can only make you more nervous. If that is the case, you should not set a goal or you should set the goal of getting the best out of yourself. Another goal could be not falling off the beam or getting higher than a 10 on the high bar. Of course, you can also have a goal of achieving the top ten, but that is a difficult goal to achieve. This is because you don't know how strict the jury is and how the others do their competitions. Of course I often set myself the goal to finish in the top. If it doesn't work out, don't get angry with yourself, but learn from it. You can train even harder so that you will eventually succeed.

These were my tips to combat nerves at the competition. Of course, it is different for everyone and not all tips help with everyone. You also have to see for yourself what you feel comfortable with before a competition. Some people like to visualise and others do not. There are also other tips that can help with nerves, but these are the tips that I use when I am competing.

Did my tips help you? Let me know in the comments!


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