How to Control Your Fear of Competition


What comes to mind when you think of competition?

Winning? Losing? Exciting? Pumped? Nerves? Pressures? Stressed?

Patricia Hy, pictured above with Next Generation Tennis League players. Photo courtesy of Peter Figura

Some people are super pumped, rising to the occasion and giving all they’ve got on the court with not a sweat to spare. 

And while others are frozen by it, paralyzed to the core of their better judgment hindering their performance.

So the big question is what makes one group see competition one way and others see it differently?  

If you are the group that has the ability to see competition as a game:


  • you already know the importance of staying in the present.  
  • you are not so caught up with every mistake and lose errors that happen in a match because you understand that you don’t have to win every point in order to win.  
  • you know that when you let a lead slip, it’s not because you lack talent but that you need to put all of your attention on the here and now playing one point at a time.  
  • you work hard on the hard things that help you move forward, and not just on the things you are already good at.

If you are the group that finds it difficult to compete,

  • you already know that your inner dialogue is negative.
  • you are not your best cheerleader.
  • you are worried what people  think or say about you.
  • you don’t want to disappoint your parents and coaches.
  • you have a hard time managing your nerves.

Without a doubt, competition affects everyone differently.  The good news is, controlling your fears is a matter of perspective.  And it is 100% within your control. 

However, it is not an easy fix but it is possible. Your fear of competition did not just pop up overnight.  It accumulated over a period of time and it will take relentless practice from you to take control over your fear.  In other words, fear is learned, you were not born with it.  So, how do you control your fear?

Consider the word FEAR.

F – false

E – evidence

A – appears

R – real

False evidence appears real.  

Fear has its rightful place to serve but it does not belong in competition.  Even though you might not be playing up to your potential, it is not fear that disrupted your performance, it’s your focus racing to the finish line instead of staying on the here and now.  It’s your negative inner dialogue saying mean things to yourself.  I would bet you wouldn’t let people speak to you that way, putting you down.  So, why do it to yourself?  You have to be your own best cheerleader because if you don’t, who will?  

So, go out there practice staying on the here and now, and be nice to you!

Inspire On!

By Patricia Hy, Contributing Editor

Patricia is also a mental coach, three-time Olympian and parent-coach to her two children. Visit to attend her informative workshops or subscribe to her blog. 

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