How to not be nervous in games? (Tips)

In this guide, we will answer the question “How to not be nervous in games?”. We will talk specifically in terms of sports for now but some tips can also apply for videogames or gamers who battle with anxiety. In the end, it is not only about mastering your skills but also your mindset. Having the appropriate set of skills doesn’t mean you are exempt from feeling nervous.

How to not be nervous in games?

If you wonder, ‘How to not be nervous in games?’ then, know that being nervous is completely normal and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here are some recommendations on how to not be nervous in games:

  • Get tons of practice so you can develop your skills at the game. By levelling up your skills you will get more confident.
  • Get into more games so you can learn how to cope with your nerves. Specifically, play with players that are not very skilled yet and also play with the very skilled ones.
  •  Try new things in games, especially those skills you have been practising on your own. By doing the same ‘tricks’ during the games you won’t start developing abilities.
  • Develop a pre-game ritual by limiting the number of choices you make.
  • Try not to worry about the outcome that much. Just play at the best of your abilities and try to enjoy the game. Doesn’t matter if it is a game with your friends or school competition, have fun while playing.
  • Learn from your mistakes but don’t let them crush your confidence and your ability to perform. 

We will take a look more in-depth on each of the tips we have mentioned so we have a more comprehensive approach. They would be really helpful, it doesn’t matter if you play basketball, tennis, volleyball, or any other sport. We understand that working on your skills will make you a better player but we need to work on having the best mindset.

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Getting tons of practice

Just as the saying says “practice makes perfect” but don’t get obsessed with it, no one is perfect. However, you can still get tons of practice with the mentality of developing your skills and getting better each time. When you practice you can make sure to increase your game level. This will consequently get your skill level up and boost your confidence.

When you start feeling more comfortable in games, you are more likely to do it again in future games. But remember, you need to practice also on your own and then participate in as many games as you can.

Get into more games

It is important to get into more games, as many as you can but specifically with players with all types of skills, not only the ones that are at your same skill and level of ability. The idea is to play with players who are slightly above or below. If you play only with below the average players you will feel confident to try new things and new tricks. It is also an opportunity to display the skills you have practised on your own. Then you can decide if you can or can’t do it in a game.

Then you can start playing with players you consider are on your equal skills level and then play with the ones you consider have more developed skills. As you start playing with the different type of players then you will feel more comfortable because you have adjusted to the skill levels. 

Have a pre-game ritual

Pre-game nerves come from uncertainty so one of the best things you can do is to limit the number of choices you have to make by creating a pre-game routine. This can simply consist of making sure you pack the stuff you need for the game the night before, having a pre-game snack or listening to a ‘pre-game’ playlist while heading to the game or during your warm-up.

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Trying things in games (testing your skills)

This tip is related to the previous one in the sense that when you start playing, you start getting more confident and your anxiety will start to subside. When this happens, you start testing your skills by trying new things during the games and things you have probably practised on your own. Being able to do one or two tricks is not necessarily a bad thing but if you would like to level up your game and set of skills you need to start doing new things through game situations.

We know that you may fear making a mistake while playing a game but you will learn a lot just from trying to apply what you have learned during games.

Try not to worry about the outcome 

Try not to worry about the outcome, the last thing you want to do is to dwell on every possible scenario where most of them are perceived as negative, feeding your nerves. We tend to worry about the future and the truth is that it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t know with certainty that what we are thinking will happen. For instance, thinking ‘I am not good enough’ or ‘I am not as good as other players’ will definitely impact your confidence and if your team loses then you will automatically think that it is because you lack the skills.

Instead, try to have fun and enjoy the game. Think you are playing with your friends on a Sunday morning or remember what it feels like to play just for fun, without taking it too seriously, otherwise you will add extra pressure on yourself and it can affect your game.

Learn from your mistakes

Learn from your mistakes but don’t let them crush your confidence or get you to think you are not good at this game. Try the new things you have been working on your own and in other games, you have had the opportunity to play. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you make a mistake, we are certainly really good at doing this but you will lose confidence in your skills and you may still be thinking about it in your next game which will make you feel very nervous.

We tend to believe if we make mistakes, we are a failure and everyone will think the same thing but don’t pay attention to what other people think, what is important is what you think about yourself. Mistakes are to be made and we are supposed to learn from them instead of just investing so much energy and time thinking about them, think “How can I improve (x skill)” or “what can I do to prevent this from happening again”.

Why is this blog about How to not be nervous in games important?

As we have discussed when answering the question ‘How to not be nervous in games’, feeling nervous is a normal reaction and there is no need to fight it. Instead, focus your energy and mind into performing at the best of your abilities because when we are too focused on the outcome, it affects our performance. As we have mentioned, practising as much as you can, playing with players who have different sets and trying new things during games can help you improve or develop your own set of skills.

Finally, try to implement a pre-game ritual to minimize the choices you’ll have to make by preparing your equipment or the things you need, the night before the game. Learn from your mistakes instead of dwelling on them so you can make the necessary adjustments for your next game and remember to always enjoy and have fun.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous in games

How can I calm my nerves before a game?

If you would like to calm your nerves before a game, it is important to avoid dwelling on everything that could happen. When we are anxious we start thinking about the outcome of every possible situation and most of them (if not all) are considered negative. However, try to keep yourself busy before the game by doing some exercise (without exceeding yourself), reading a book or listening to relaxing music.

How do you stay calm during a game?

If you would like to stay calm during a game:
Live the present moment instead of focusing on the outcome of the game.
Just concentrate on having fun, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.
Think about the things you can control instead of those you can’t.
Keep yourself distracted before a game.

How do I stop anxiety before a game?

If you want to stop anxiety before a game consider:

– Focusing on the task at hand rather than thinking about the possible outcome.

– Imagine a good practice day. Remember how you felt that day.

– Force a smile and even laugh. This will boost your mood.

– Play as if you don’t care about the outcome and concentrate on having fun.

How do you not get nervous?

Feeling nervous is completely normal and avoiding feeling nervous can have the contrary effect. However, there are some ways to keep others from noticing you are nervous:

– Take some deep breaths. 

– Write your thoughts down and contrast them with reality.

– Speak slowly, there is no rush.

– Don’t fight the feeling, remember it is normal to feel nervous in certain circumstances.

– Think about why you get nervous and under which circumstances.

How do you stop being nervous?

You may not be able to completely stop yourself from being nervous since it is completely normal but there are some things you can do to overcome nervousness, such as:

– Not being afraid of being nervous. In an uncomfortable situation, think how normal it is to feel nervous and how it is only temporary.

– Whether it is a speech or a presentation, be prepared.

– Use some positive self-talk and try not to beat yourself up for previous mistakes.

– Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.

– Try learning some breathing and relaxation techniques.  


Chavanelle, N. (n.d.) 10 Ways to Calm Nerves Before a Big Game. Retrieved from “How to STOP Being NERVOUS In Games FOREVER: Be Confident In Basketball”

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