3 strategies for athletes to overcome nerves before competition

Published: May. 24, 2019 at 5:25 AM CDT
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On this Fit Life, we're talking about swim training for a triathlon with professional triathlete Danielle Dingman with SBC Athletics.

We asked Danielle about the way she gets prepared for the open swim in the triathlon.

Triathlons can hold the swim in a pool or in the open water like a lake or the ocean. Because it can cause anxiety, it's really important to get yourself familiar with being in the water and also simulating some of the race conditions that you may face.

You might head to one of our lakes with some friends and someone in a canoe to follow you for safety.

She told us in a triathlon swimming can cause the most anxiety or nervous energy for newer triathletes. Many athletes will start feeling tight through the chest and the shoulders. Danielle says it's almost a feeling like you can't catch your breath.

You also might start feeling nauseous in your stomach. So, it's important to first understand what those symptoms are so that you know how to respond to them and can train yourself to calm down and relax.

One of the ways that Danielle combats anxiety is through visualizations. She will practice seeing herself in the competition and staying calm.

Then, when she's in the race, she'll focus on her breathing. She'll make sure she's constantly exhaling out when her head is underwater and then inhaling when her head is above water. But, she says don't take breaths that are too deep either.

At a pool, you can practice swimming in a lane with lots of groups of people so you can get used to being in close proximity to other people.

Also, in a race focus on what you can control. For example, focusing on your technique, focusing on your sighting too. In a race that's in open water, you'll have big buoys to help keep you going in the right direction. So, in training be focused on looking at those buoys and heading in that direction.