Allen Eyestone / Palm Beach Post
Allen Eyestone / Palm Beach Post

It doesn’t matter if you’re Kobe Bryant or Smush Parker, everyone feels their nerves intensify before the biggest moments. It’s been said that once you stop getting butterflies you should begin to worry because the greats stay nervous. More times than not that cliche turns out being true and if you don’t believe it, try asking a couple of successful people if they had butterflies before they started something big.

Tim Grover (trainer for Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Dwyane Wade and many other greats) spoke about butterflies in his book Relentless… and alluded to how the greats take all those butterflies and “get them moving in the same direction.” Fortunately there isn’t anything physical that needs to be done to calm nerves, all it takes is mental strength and will power.

  1. Breathe – I can guarantee that you’ve heard this from everyone, literally, everyone. They tell you this because it’s true. Whether it’s a speaking event, playoff game, job interview or anything that leads to that fuzzy feeling in your stomach, all you need to do is breathe. Where people go wrong is that they don’t breathe correctly and sometimes hyperventilate because they don’t regulate them self. All you need to do is breathe in & out three times immediately before your event.  Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth and focus on nothing but your breathing.
  2. Don’t Think – As soon as you think a single negative thought, no matter how minuscule, you’ll lose. You begin to doubt yourself, along with doubting the people around you which leads to a severe lack of confidence which is then linked to your downfall. You can’t control everything either, so only focus on what you can do as an individual. If you’re a basketball player, you control the type of shots you take, how hard you hustle, things like that. You don’t control how hard your teammates play or the shots they take. You can do everything in your power to control that, but ultimately it’s up to the individual.
  3. Know You’re The Best – I don’t care if you’re the 15th guy on the bench who’s only played two minutes all year. As soon as you step on that court the belief in yourself needs to be at a level of Michael, Kobe, or any other athlete that’s relevant to your sport. You might ask, “how do I know that I’m the best?” Your level on self-confidence is contingent upon how much work you’re putting in. The more work you put in, the better you feel and it’s easier to feel that you’re the best even though you might not be.

Failure is going to happen at some point and if you’re not okay with that it’s going to be hard to shake those nerves. Just go out there, do whatever you’re able to do and have a strong belief that you’re going to come out victorious. If you don’t, you cannot get discouraged. Take that temporary defeat and use it to make yourself better; look at what you could’ve done differently and work on it.