Calming Competition Day Nerves

Apr 16, 2020

Already thinking ahead to your next DECA competition? Despite all the preparation in the world, it’s hard not to feel nervous when you step into the exam room or begin solving the case study! Here are some tips to enter your next competition with confidence:

1. Rest the Night Before

The night before a competition, it’s easy to stay up late obsessing over every element of your event while running through practice exams and case studies. Although it is a good idea to do a brief review of your study material, it’s more important to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Setting aside all electronic devices before bedtime and finding a way to relax will ensure a more restful night. Waking up well-rested is the best way to start any competition day!

2. Enjoy a Healthy Breakfast

Skipping breakfast is a common mistake made by many competitors and can come with some serious consequences. Starting the day without any form of sustenance will likely lead to feeling hungry within a few hours and will distract from the task at hand. Preparing a healthy filling meal before you head into competition is a great way to prepare your body for the long day ahead. My go-to is a smoothie and peanut butter toast, but other meals like eggs and bacon or a bagel with cream cheese will ensure you feel satisfied until lunch.

3. Stay Hydrated

Carrying a water bottle with you and keeping it full throughout the day is another great way to ensure that you feel ready to go. Drinking lots of water will alleviate pre-competition jitters and allow you to feel satiated as the day progresses! A nice swig of water during the exam or role-play prep can allow your mind to refocus and accomplish the end goal.

4. Take a Deep Breath

Hyperventilation is a common side effect of stress and can lead to feelings of lightheadedness and nausea. It’s important to stop this harmful behavior before it starts by taking deep breaths and remaining mindful! If you begin to feel anxious or worried during the competition, take a few seconds to breathe in and out, clearing your mind of any stressful thoughts it may be holding on to. If you’d like to do a guided exercise, the Breathe+ app is free and offers a simple interface designed to alleviate stress.

5. Review Key Information

Keeping a DECA notebook with you throughout the year is a great way to ensure you keep the most pertinent information in mind. Fill the notebook with test corrections, case study solutions and helpful feedback to improve your competitive skills. Briefly reviewing the notebook before you enter the case study prep area allows you to keep key details fresh and potentially incorporate them into your solution. Taking note of your performance in the notebook after the event is over is another great way to continuously improve and learn from any past mistakes.

6. Believe in Yourself!

Stress surrounding competition often stems from a feeling of being inadequate or underprepared. It’s important to recognize all of the hard work you put in to prepare for your event and focus on how far you’ve come. Approach your event with a smile, stay calm and enjoy every second. Eliminate any shred of self-doubt and encourage yourself through positive affirmations. You’ve got this!


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