Esports players who compete at elite levels get accustomed to the lights and sounds of high-pressure situations, but for people starting out in competitive gaming sometimes getting a handle on your nerves can prove too difficult.
Being nervous or experiencing high anxiety can be perfectly normal in a competitive environment, and the key to performing as well as you’re able to can rely on knowing the right techniques to manage that stress.
Luckily former Counter-Strike pro Ron ‘Rambo’ Kim is an expert in the thoughts and emotions that can overcome younger esports players, which is why he offered his methods for the best ways of getting those anxieties in control.
1) Slow Down with “lazy” inhales
The very first method Rambo suggests is to simply slow down your breathing when feeling that anxiety settling in: “I’ll take the laziest, slowest, longest inhales through my nose.”
These 5-10 second inhales might seem like it “takes forever” but that’s sort of the point, as it gives time for your “mind and body [to] realign together.”
2) Flush bad thoughts by focusing on your breath
Tons of negative thoughts and emotions can easily fill an esports pro’s head. To combat this, Rambo suggests training your mind by trying out meditation.
What’s been working for Rambo is taking 10-15 minutes of slow breaths to concentrate on one’s self and block out all the “clutter” that could be affecting the mind’s state. With enough practice, people can effectively “cancel out” negative thoughts by simply focusing on something they have control over, which is their breathing.
3) Positive self talk
A lot of the time our biggest critic can be ourselves. Rambo thinks that players should be accustomed to giving themselves a positive reinforcement with positive self talk.
“When you get anxious, you have all these thoughts in your mind and they’re usually negative stuff,” Rambo said.
While it might sound silly or embarrassing, giving oneself a small pep talk can be all they need to reduce anxiety since most of the causes for that stress were probably conceived purely in their own mind.
4) Be prepared
Whether things go well or not, all one can do is their best. Being properly prepared for a competition or tournament can go a long way to reducing nervousness.
Rambo says that “your mind is much more at ease” simply knowing that you did your due diligence leading up to the event.
5) Good sleep, good food
Now this is one a lot of gamers have trouble with, but it’s an important one to start fixing sooner than later.
Resting essentially resets your mind, but that’ll only go as far as the energy you give it. Rambo says that putting an effort into getting the proper amount of sleep along with feeding yourself healthy foods can pave a smoother road for reduced anxiety and nervousness.
6) Confront your anxiety
When anxiety or the like starts to infest Rambo’s thoughts instead of avoiding the state of mind, he does his best to find the “root of the problem.”
“Really, go straight on with [your anxiety],” Rambo said. “Cause I feel like if you don’t and just leave it there and let it linger, it’s going to start taking over your mind.”
7) Gain experience
Rambo’s parting advice clues people into being experienced about what you’re doing. A lot of the time people rightfully get anxious of the unknown.
“The more you do something,” Rambo said. “The more comfortable you get!”
Whether that means going to more LANs (regardless if you win or not), putting more time in with an organized team, etc., having a proper footing on what you’re doing will cut down on the anxiety that players can sometimes feel.