How Pro Gamers Beat Stress

Many people get performance anxiety in front of crowds.Source: Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

We all know that nervous feeling just before a big competition starts. You know it even better if you’ve ever played competitive sports. All eyes are on you and your team is counting on you to bring home a win. But it’s isn’t just traditional sports stars who feel the pressure. Professional gamers competing in major game competitions experience the same kinds of stressors. Following are some tips from professional gamers.

Whether you have a big competition coming up or you’re dealing with other types of stress, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to deal it. We experience it at home, at work, and everywhere in between. While the roots of everyone’s stress may be different, the ways to deal with it are pretty universal. Even if you aren’t playing in any high-stakes games, all gamers can benefit from learning how to cope under pressure.

Do gamers stress like other pros?

A lot of people don’t realize how similar eSports are to live sports for the pros who play them. But with the rise in popularity of online gaming and competition streaming, many people have started appreciate how much skill is involved. A gamer competing in an online FIFA tournament may not have to train the same way as a pro football player does for the World Cup, but there is certainly lots of work involved. Gamers endure countless hours of preparation and spend lots of time and energy fighting their way to the top.

For a growing number of people, eSports are actually a career, and can bring elite players handsome paychecks. It takes serious skill to go pro, but for gamers who love to play and have the necessary know-how, it can be a great opportunity.

With so much money and status on the line, it’s no surprise that eSports players feel stress in a way that’s very similar to pro athletes in live sports. A recent study looked at how Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players experienced stress while playing, and found that it was remarkably similar to other sports. They felt stressed around their personal performance, communication with their teammates, and being in front of an audience. These aren’t so different from the issues faced by other pro athletes, particularly in team sports.

Because the types of stress are similar, gamers can take advantage of many of the same de-stressing techniques as other athletes. Here are so tried-and-true ways to cool down whenever you’re feeling under a lot of pressure, whether you’re gaming or not.

1. Make sure you’re prepared

Imagine you have to perform a song in front of thousands of people. Would you rather just be thrown on stage, or have time to practice and prepare? Of course you’d want to prepare! That’s why it’s a no-brainer that making sure you’re ready can help reduce stress.

Part of preparation is just knowing what to expect from the stressful situation. It helps gamers to know where they’ll be playing, know who they’re competing against and, of course, know the game really well. That way, there are fewer surprises when it comes time to play the game.

2. Set yourself up for success

You have to take care of your body for your brain to function at its best. Getting a good night’s sleep and having a square meal works wonders for your focus and stress levels. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re sleepy, hungry, or uncomfortable in any other way.

Gamers can set themselves up for success by making sure they’re rested and content, and also by creating a comfortable environment to play in. Having an ergonomic chair, good lighting, good equipment, and all the necessities within reach can give you more bandwidth to focus on the game itself, helping you play better.

3. Focus on your breathing

No matter how prepared you are, sometimes stress will take you by surprise. At times like these, it’s a good idea to focus on your breathing. You don’t have to be a meditation master to benefit from breath work. Just taking a few deep breaths can help calm your body and mind.

Before beginning a challenging game or when things get overwhelming, eSports players can benefit from “taking a breather”. A few deep breaths can reset your mind so you’re ready for whatever comes next.

4. Be kind to yourself

There’s a reason why so many sports team have cheerleaders! Reassurance goes a long way in helping performance. But those pats on the back and cheers don’t have to come from your fans or cheerleaders—being kind to yourself is just as important.

Gamers who get too down on themselves when things go wrong can easily get discouraged or feel more anxiety when it’s time to play again. Whether you win or lose, it’s good to take a few minutes and look back on your performance. Try not to put yourself down, and look at your weaknesses as areas for improvement. Many team eSports players also have the benefit of talking to team members to rehash the ups and downs of a particular game, and to learn from each other.

Pro eSports players deal with the same stress as other athletes.Source: Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

5. Find the root cause

Knowing exactly why you’re nervous can really help when you’re feeling pressure. Ask yourself questions like: What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen? Gamers who are able to reflect and find the root cause of their stress can try to find ways to cope with those stressors. For example, gamers who have performance anxiety in front of a crowd might not want to see how many viewers there are, or might want to steer clear of hearing game commentary so no one can get in their heads.

6. Practice!

Pros of all kinds will tell you that practice doesn’t just help you play better—it helps you feel better while you play. Experienced athletes and eSports players alike will generally find that the anxiety fades with time. However, even the most seasoned players will sometimes be in stressful situations, like close games, high-stakes games, or just off days. That’s why learning how to cope with stress is important at every stage of your gaming (or non-gaming) career.

Unwind after stress

No matter what has you stressed, it always helps to have a good way to unwind. Whether you like to chill with a long walk or by playing your favorite online casino games, finding an activity that calms your mind is key for a less stressful life. Everyone from casual players on up to the pros needs a way to relax and deal with stress. Hopefully some of these tips will get you on your way!

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