Intimidation is a massive mental barrier for many athletes. It often happens when you compare yourself to your opponent's skills before competition. Many athletes worry about the skill level of their opponents and then feel inferior, for example.

What do you think about when you see the word intimidation? Do you think about feeling intimidated by an opponent or do you see yourself as the intimidator?

Most intimidation in sports comes from your own thought process, which I call *self-intimidation*. Some athletes try to intimidate others intentionally because they think it gives them a mental edge, or feel they need to do this to win. However, most intimidation comes from athletes who psych themselves out - all on their own.

They psych themselves out because of negative thoughts or fears, which then turn into mental gremlins. Self-intimidation is what you bring on yourself because you worry too much about your competition or the team you are about to play.

One student I coach, for example, gets intimidated by the ranking of his opponent. If his competitor has a high ranking, he begins to doubt his ability to win the match. And then he plays tight and is afraid he will lose the match.

Self-intimidation is the most common type of intimidation in sports and the hardest intimidation to overcome. You can easily ignore what others might say to you to yank you out of the zone, but you cannot ignore your own doubts or feelings of inferiority!

Self-intimidation can come in many forms such as:
-Feeling pressure to perform your best or win.
-Worry about performing against other athletes who are just as skilled.
-Comparing yourself to other athletes who you think are better.
-Worry about competing against a *ranked* or well-known athlete.
-Getting caught up in the hoopla or importance of a game.

Confident and composed athletes do not intimidate themselves. Confident athletes, who are in control of their emotions, love the challenge of testing their skills against others athletes. The bigger and better the challenge, the more enjoyment they gain from the competition.
Many athletes are not even aware that they intimidate themselves because doubt can be very subtle such as, "Can I beat this athlete who has more wins than me? "

Your first task in overcoming intimidation is to be very honest with yourself, and recognize those times when you are psyching yourself out of the competition before you even start!

Look for signs such as:
-You give too much energy to your competition during pregame.
-You have doubts about playing well against a certain competitor or team.
-You are in awe of the situation or hoopla of the competitive environment.
-You feel inferior to the competition and make comparisons to others.

Once you are aware that you are psyching yourself out with self-intimidation, you can move forward to improve your self-composure and poise.

Author's Bio: 

Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? Grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine - for athletes, coaches, and sports parents:
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach who work with professional and amateur athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. Visit for more information.