By Ryan Flaherty
Using the power of the present moment to refocus.
Everyone gets nervous before a big moment. Even the pros. It's normal, it's natural and … it can be controlled. In this article, Nike's senior director of performance, Ryan Flaherty, shares his tips on how to overcome nerves by bringing yourself back to the present moment.
You may not think that elite athletes get so nervous before games that it can affect their performance—but that's exactly what happens for many of the pros I work with. It's easy for them to get caught up in worrying about what the outcome will be, just like you might before a big meeting or at the starting line for a 10K race. Instead of thinking too far ahead into the future, I help my athletes stay calm by getting them to check into the present moment with the mantra of "be where your feet are".
"The best way you can set yourself up for success is to 'be where your feet are', right here, right now, in the present moment".
Ryan Flaherty, Nike senior director of performance
One exercise I've used with athletes who have pre-game jitters is tied to the National Anthem. While it's being performed, I tell them to pick something—for example, the stripes on the ref's kit—and to focus on that. It's also helpful to scan your body and notice where you feel tension, and to feel sensations like how firmly your feet are planted on the ground. All of these are different strategies meant to tie you to the present moment.
After all, what you've done in the past has already happened, and you can't change it. What lies ahead is an unknown. So, the best way you can set yourself up for success is to "be where your feet are", right here, right now, in the present moment.
So, the next time your mind starts replaying failures from the past or worrying about what will happen next, pause. Take a deep breath. And try to just be where your feet are.