The prefight jitters for a martial artist can be anything from a pounding heart, breathing quickly, and anxious thoughts all the way to passing out like we saw with Struve a few months ago. The mental game is a huge component in MMA. Take a look at Cowboy Cerrone for example. Years ago when they fought, Nate Diaz got inside of Cerrone’s head and got the best of him, something you would never expect after seeing Nate and Cerrone’s more recent performances. Since then, Cowboy has seen a sports psychologist and has his own rituals of doing crazy things like flying around in fighter jets and racing cars that seem to help clear his mind during fight week.
A new study at Harvard has found that simply re-branding your “prefight jitters” to “excitement” can make a huge difference. For this study, people in one group were told to calm down before executing a particular set of tasks. People in the second group were told to get excited. Finally, a control group was given no instructions at all. The people who branded their pre-performance anxiety as excitement performed better than the rest of the participants by 15-30% on a series of different tests and tasks including public speaking and singing in front of an audience.
Instead of trying to calm yourself down in a stressful situation, get hyped up instead. When you try to calm yourself down, it gets you focusing on all of the things that could go wrong and sure enough they often will. If you’re getting excited, it means you’re focusing on all the things that can go right and, you guessed it, they often will. Speaking of the Diaz bros, Nick has been very open about his anxiety and how he dislikes everything leading up to the fight and even hates fighting itself.
When you’ve got a fight coming up or any difficult task… don’t be scared, homie.
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