How to overcome precompetitive anxiety

What is precompetitive anxiety (PCA)?

You are about to play an important game. Your heartbeat increases, your mind is racing… You are thinking “What if I fail?.. I can’t fail.. I must win..” Suddenly you lose focus, you can’t concentrate. It seems whatever you try to force yourself to do seems like it’s not working..

No matter the game, no matter the rank, almost every player who has ever played competitively has experienced precompetitive anxiety. 

Why PCA occurs?

Precompetitive anxiety (PCA) occurs when we can’t control physical and mental arousal before a competitive / ranked game. It could be a result of various sources. Sometimes it happens  when the player is setting too high (or unrealistic) expectations about their performance. Another reason for PCA could be perfectionism. Precompetitive anxiety could also occur if there is too much pressure from the environment / team / org within which the player functions. However, the most common reason is that PCA happens when the individual puts too much pressure and overthinks the future.

How to overcome PCA?

1. Create a pregame routine and stick to it

Having a pregame routine (warm up) always helps become more consistent and focused before an important game. Instead of stressing out about the game, start your pregame routine and focus on different elements of your performance you could control.

2. Focus on what you control

Very often PCA prevents us from thinking clearly and we are very easily sucked into a negative down spiral. If left unattended, PCA could lead to decreased focus and control over the game. In order to prevent that, try to focus on what is within your control. Ask yourself what you could do to improve your current situation. 

3. Improve your mental skills

Mental skills like visualizations and positive self-talk could help a lot to overcome PCA. These mental skills are crucial for optimal performance however they take time and a lot of effort. Visualizing success has been proven to be a good way to relieve stress and build strong self-confidence. Positive self-talk would help to overcome mistakes and improve your overall mindset.

4. Fix your posture

When we are stressed out it’s very visible to others. The irony is that we often don’t notice it ourselves. This is why you could be prepared in advance and know how stress affects your body and even the way you position yourself in front of the monitor. Next time you are experiencing PCA try to relax your muscles, change your posture so you could feel relaxed and in control.

5. Learn relaxation and breathing techniques

Breathing and relaxation techniques are an amazing way to reduce pressure on the spot. Professional athletes know this very well and we have countless examples of top tier players and teams who practice such techniques before important games and even during timeouts or halftimes.  If done properly such techniques could also help you concentrate, improve focus and regain control during the game. 

Have you experienced precompetitive anxiety ? How do you overcome it? Please share in the comments. If you want to build a clutch mentality and learn new mental skills that would help you overcome your difficulties in your game – message me at and receive your first session for FREE.

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esports, esports-psychology, Gaming
About George
George Atanasov is a mental performance consultant, currently working in professional esports. He has experience consulting elite athletes and esports players. If you want to improve your mental game sign up for a free initial session with him by messaging at