Starve the Anxiety: A Technique on How to Reduce Performance Anxiety / by James Leath

“I’m super nervous coach; what should I do?” 

“Does being nervous help you?” I ask. 

“No...well, kind of. I just want to perform well.” 

“Then you need to starve the anxiety. When you dwell on negative thoughts, when you question yourself and all the work you have put into preparing for this moment, the more you delete the mental focus you need to perform at your best ability.” 

“So what should I do?” 


Sitting outside a locker room with one of my athletes before the biggest game of her career to this point, we take a few breaths together. 

Inhale.   1...2...3...4 

Hold.     1...2...3...4 

Exhale.  1...2...3...4. 

Hold.     1...2...3…4. 

We repeat this four times.

When you focus on your breath, you push out any other thought. Think of it as a mental clearing or a reset. 

“Can you feel your heart beating?” I ask. 

“I can.” 

“How do you feel?” 


“Can you take this feeling and turn up the intensity without dipping into the negativity? 

“I’m ready, Coach.” 

This is a breathing technique you can use not just in sport, but in life, as in preparing for a test, walking into a big presentation, or calming yourself before engaging in an uncomfortable conversation. 

Take some breaths. 

Focus on your heartbeat. 

Starve the anxiety.