Imagine you’re sitting at your desk, hovering over the play button. You check your friends list, and see nobody online. You hesitate to press play. You start to worry if you’ll have a good experience. Maybe
- you won’t have someone who can play support, or
- your teammates aren’t as skilled, or
- you will get players that refuse to play as a team.
Sometimes players might experience these feelings of anxiety that affect their gameplay or stop them from pressing the play button. The good news is you have options to deal with this anxiety. Each person navigates their anxiety with a different path, but we can all use a common compass. Here are five points you can rely on to guide you through SoloQ anxiety.
North: Accept that you will experience anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of a person’s experience. Any person with the normal capacity for emotions will experience anxiety some point. You might feel it sending an important email, approaching a stranger, waiting for a phone call, getting ready to SoloQ, and more.
Failure is my biggest fear. ~Lebron James
In an ESPN interview, Lebron James reported that failure is his greatest fear. Even one of the best athletes, who has all the reasons to be confident, experiences anxiety. Despite dealing with his greatest fear in every game, Lebron is still able to consistently perform well. You might feel anxious before every game, but understand that it’s normal and you share a similar experience with top competitors.
East: Understand your anxiety
In order to effectively deal with anxiety, it is important to get a good understanding of of the what, when, how, and your strengths.
- What it looks and feels like,
- times you’re likely to feel anxious,
- how it affects the way you play, and
- how you’ve successfully dealt with it.
Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories. ~Sun Tau
For example, let’s say you feel anxious when you’re getting harassed in lane and start falling behind on CS. You start feeling the pressure, rush your last hits, stop checking the minimap, stop thinking as clearly, and your shoulders tense up. If this continues, you might miss most of your CS and end up feeding.
Once you’ve identified what’s going on, you know you need to calm down and refocus. You might take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, and tell yourself “relax, one CS at a time”. By understanding exactly what you’re up against, you can find ways to effectively deal with it.
South: Redefine anxiety
Consider looking at anxiety from a different perspective. If you feel nervous playing. This could mean that it’s important to you! It might mean you just want it bad. You could tell yourself that you’re shaking with excitement because you can’t wait to show everyone what you can do.
Imagine getting ready for an important match, and you’re feeling butterflies in your stomach. You’re uneasy before the match starts, and start overthinking. Once the match starts, you decide to focus on winning your lane. You’re able to redirect your nervous energy to the task at hand, and perform brilliantly. The anxiety was there, but with the right focus and finesse, you were able to channel it to the game.
Everybody has butterflies, the key is making them fly in formation. ~ Robert Gilbert
You might also think about anxiety as controlling your butterflies flight, instead of trying to quash them all to death. Unfortunately these butterflies are particularly resilient. They will always be there, but are simply waiting for you to redirect them.
West: Make anxiety work for you
Stress, pressure, and anxiety can sometimes be a positive. Think about a time you were preparing for an important exam. You likely felt anxious because it was really important, and you wanted to do well. The anxiety led you to work hard, perhaps even over prepare. You did everything you could to give yourself the best chance at success. In the end, you ended up doing better than you thought you would. In this case, your anxiety has positively impacted your performance.
Be on the lookout for the positives in your anxiety. You might think to yourself that it is your time to shine, or you have nothing to lose, or there’s a golden opportunity for you to step up. With the right mindset and proficiency, anxiety can inspire a great performance.
Center: Remain optimistic that it will get better
When taking on a new task, you might not always be comfortable at first. Think about acquiring a skill (e.g., last hitting, landing a hookshot) or playing a new champion that you are now proficient with. You might not have been skilled when you started, but with practice you got better. Once you acquired a level of proficiency, your confidence likely went up as well.
Dealing with anxiety is similar. With enough practice and exposure in an anxiety inducing situation, it eventually starts to feel natural. Remember that anxiety is always there, but there are ways to deal with it. Keep a positive outlook on anxiety, know that you have options, practice dealing with anxiety, and embrace the challenge.
Maybe one day you will find yourself looking forward to pressing the play button. Happy gaming!