Notes On Nerves
When I was working with some world class swimmers a few years ago, one of the big issues for some of them was competition nerves. Picture the scene: These guys are getting on the blocks. There’s them and seven other people and 50 metres of water between them and a particular goal, a particular victory, and there are galleries full of people - and there’s media and there’s maybe TV, and there’s the Expectations they hold. Big Expectations!
And there’s also the expectations of their coaches, their friends and family, in some respects the weight of the world on their shoulders! It’s nervy and there’s butterflies in tummy and it can be all a bit scary!
Helpful? Not really.
Remember: Performance Is Emotional – which means we need to feel how we need to feel in order to do what it is we want to do.
So we have to do something.
We have to change the meaning – we have to make it more Helpful.
So the reframe script - what we say to ourselves inside our head – can go something like this:
‘Nerves are just a signal. Nerves are just telling us that it’s special. Nerves are just telling us that it matters. Nerves are just an opportunity for us to get ready to perform and we’ve chosen swimming as a way to express who we are and what we stand for.
So through my swimming, through how I swim, through how I conduct myself before the swim, during the swim, after the swim, that’s just an opportunity for me to express and shout from the rooftops this is who I am, this is what I stand for and I need the nerves to give me that signal so I welcome the nerves!
I welcome them as something hugely powerful. The greater the nerves, the bigger the signal – and at the end of the day those nerves are mine and therefore simply an extension of me and my ambition.
So the more nerves I’m feeling, the bigger my personality, the bigger my stretch, the bigger my ambition, that’s just a part of me – and I control all of that. So bring it on – ‘cos this is what I do!’
All we’re doing is taking a set of circumstances and putting our particular stamp on them - but it’s a stamp that makes it Helpful and not unhelpful in terms of achieving what it is we want to achieve.
It’s just a way of interpreting the world, and while that’s a world class athlete example the principles are applied to all of those in every walk of life.