Everyone gets nervous before a big competition or race. Regardless of your sport, skill level, or confidence, you can feel anxious about your performance. And, in some ways, nerves are a good thing. They get your adrenaline pumping and give you the motivation to push yourself.

But if you’re too nervous, your performance could suffer. You don’t want to be too busy worrying about the end result you forget to focus on actually getting there.

If nerves are negatively impacting your competitions, read on for some tips on how to calm yourself down and chill out before the big day.

Acknowledge your emotions

In business, 90% of top performers have a high level of emotional intelligence and are receptive to their feelings and emotions. Sport is no different. Successful athletes have self-awareness. They are able to identify their emotions and get them under control when needed. 

Ignoring how you feel will only make things worse. If you feel nerves kick in, pay attention and figure out exactly what you’re anxious about. Then you’ll be better able to combat your thinking and successfully keep the nerves at bay. 


90% of the information that travels to our brain is visual. You can tell yourself that everything is going to be okay until you’re blue in the face, but there’s a good chance your brain still won’t listen.

Take some time to visualise the event before it happens. Run everything through in your head and rehearse exactly what you will do. This way, you’ll become more comfortable and confident about what’s to come. You take away the element of surprise by familiarising yourself. And by visualising yourself succeeding, you can remove some of the anxiety about things going wrong. 

Going to a specific location might help you to visualise things better. If you’re a swimmer, why not head to the pool?

Set goals 

You want to set yourself goals that aren’t just winning the race. Sure, you want to go in believing you can win. But this can pack on more pressure and make your nerves even worse.

Maybe set your sights on beating a previous time or improving your technique in some way. Give yourself something to reach for that isn’t all or nothing like winning or losing. 

You can also break down ‘winning’ into a set of smaller, more achievable goals. Perhaps view each length as a separate goal. Doing this will also help you focus during the actual event.

Distract yourself

There might come a point where you feel powerless to your nerves. No matter what you do, you can’t shake them. 

If this is the case, it’s time for distractions. Do whatever you enjoy doing that’s outside of your sport. Go and have fun with friends or keep yourself busy with school or work. Do whatever you need to do to avoid sitting and overthinking what’s to come.


Both the night before and the day of a big competition, start getting your head in the game. Find relaxation techniques that work for you and help clear your mind. Whether it’s meditation, listening to music, or lying in silence, allow yourself to be present and focused. Also, make sure you have a good night's sleep!

Nerves can be powerful in helping you succeed. But they can also trip you up and distract you from your end goal. It’s important you learn how to calm yourself down and channel your nerves into productive fuel. It’ll take some practice but, eventually, you’ll get there.

At Maru, we offer swimwear to see you through from practice to competition. We prioritise style, comfort, and have something for everyone. Browse the full range here.