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Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.”

- Joshua Marine



For some individuals and athletes, their anxiety disorder may be grounded in the sport experience, and it may be useful to treat it within the framework of sports performance.


Whether discussing “performance” anxiety or anxiety disorder (a phobia or generalized anxiety), the construct of this emotion remains relatively similar. Specifically, anxiety has a unique set of properties that distinguishes it from other emotions. For athletes and non-athletes, the thoughts and feelings that induce anxiety tend to be about the future.


The future element causing anxiety for the individual is typically a perceived threat or danger. It should be noted that two types of threats exist – a threat to safety and a threat to ego integrity (“if I lose, then I am a loser”).


Anxiety has cognitive and physiological elements. Physiological symptoms may include muscle tension, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. There is evidence that positive self-talk increases task performance and confidence, which can dramatically decrease anxiety.


Understanding the influence of one’s emotions by challenging self-defeating thoughts and negative behaviors can have a significant impact on motivation and physical functioning. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can improve one’s current behavioral patterns through self-talk, goal setting, and imagery.

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