Sports Anxiety: Becoming a Winner with EFT Therapy By Neasa De Baróid, B.A.Psych/Soc

Golf Art. Juan Les Pins, France   



Biography: Hailing from Cork City on the south coast of Ireland, Neasa completed her psychology/sociology degree at UCC in 1988, and dived full-time into the world of professional international singing.  Debilitating performance anxiety eventually took it’s toll physically, forcing Neasa to look deeper into the causes that required healing.  She rediscovered her natural affinity with all things psychological and, mixed with her passion for energy healing, she trained as an EFT therapist – Emotional Freedom Techniques.  Her keen insight into the psychology of performance issues has led to many performance schools referring their students to her.  Neasa still sings professionally.  “We are all performers.  Whether as parents, employees or on stage, we hunger to be our best” – Neasa

A professional tennis player contacted me about what had become a pattern of consistently losing tennis games.  As ‘Chris’ was preparing for a major WTA tennis championship, his panic was running high.  The following occurred in five sessions via Skype.

No stranger myself to
Stage Fright in my capacity as a professional singer, we quickly got straight to the main cause — his dad. A controlling man, acting as manager, the father tried to improve his son’s performance by shouting at him, regularly pointing out his weak points in an undermining fashion.  When Chris imagined his dad, his anxiety was at a 10, so we weren’t going anywhere until we put him emotionally back in command with his father.  Using mental imagery of the dad at his worst, roaring, we made a list of Chris’s fears:
  • That his dad might lose control and hit him
  • That he was a huge disappointment to his father
  • That dad held all the money, hence all the career decisions; Chris was utterly dependent
  • That each time he failed, instead of bringing home badly needed prize money, it was costing the family more and more
Entering Senior age bracket, the pressure had mounted because of an initial win, which he put down to beginner’s luck.  Becoming flavor of the month had actually intensified the pressure.  After that, he lost four games in a row.  Subsequently, losing became the norm.

We used the EFT Movie Technique on his four losing games, during which I queried why he’d put his initial win down to beginner’s luck.  Because he was now playing against people he had admired, four names in particular, he felt small and inferior and had pre-determined he didn’t have a chance against these seasoned players.  We tapped on: “Even though he’s older than me and has good ranking, we are all Top WTAs, all with equal skill. The only difference between us is the size of our thoughts”.  We tapped on Chris seeing himself as huge, vast, powerful.  Eventually, he was able to close his eyes and say each of the four players’ names with 0 intensity.  He reported they now didn’t look “big,” and that he was actually recognizing his own special skills.

I asked him to see himself winning against them.  This was still difficult because, he explained, he lacked speed in reaching the ball and noted a previously unidentified thought that “There’s no point, I won’t make the ball”.  While tapping on this limiting belief, I asked Chris to imagine being in the game, feeling his body, and to gauge what it was about his body sensations that made him conclude this.  Chris responded, “The assumption I won’t reach the ball reduces my energy to run, and makes my legs feel heavy”, so we tapped on this, and then replaced it with more positive suggestions such as “I can always reach that ball, swift, easy, lightly”.


There was, however, some remaining belief about an inability to reach the ball and still some of the heavy feeling in his legs. I got a sense of an unsafety issue, a need for protection.  Tapping, I asked why he would need to keep his legs or arms so inflexible and prevent himself reaching too freely for that ball; for what reasons was he protecting himself by keeping his reach small.  He answered, “In case I damage my leg further”. It emerged that he had broken a leg in his younger years. He realized two limiting beliefs in this:

First, he was harbouring a previously unidentified, subconscious assumption that the leg was weak and that it would always impede his speed in reaching the ball.                Second, he feared in stretching too far the leg might snap again, leaving him permanently damaged as a tennis player.  He was thus subconsciously protecting this leg.  The belief and the fear it caused had resulted in shortening his reach for the ball.  We tapped all aspects of the injury as well as the belief and fear that resulted and kept tapping until the intensity dropped to 0.

We then tapped in an image of his dad accepting him, win or not win.  In between our sessions, Chris tested the results with his father.  At our next session, he reported how his view of his dad had changed.  Initially, his dad had seemed to hold huge power over Chris.  Now Chris saw his father as injured through his own childhood and acting out from that childhood injury. Chris now saw a frightened child instead of an overpowering dad. There was some remaining anxiety, however, which we brought to 0. Interestingly, his father was now being kinder and more respectful toward Chris, and had apologized for treating him badly.

Our only responsibility is to change ourselves. Time and time again, however, we find that when we let go of feeding an unhealthy relationship, there is nothing for the other to feed on energetically, and the other’s behaviour toward us changes as a result. Also, others can sense that we are firmer, taking less nonsense. They begin to treat us as we treat ourselves—respectfully!


Open to your Greatest Potential, your full colour


In Chris’s next session, he was much more vivacious, having played a match and won. Now the real fun began. Though it is crucial to break down old emotional traumas and the limiting beliefs that result, I find the building-back-up part exciting — planting new seeds, new self-images, and watching the client’s body language and facial expression release before my eyes.

I put together a visual program for Chris, based on NLP. While tapping, I guided him through a new vision of his game and of himself, which he saw in his mind’s eye:

  • His opponents were getting smaller, then tiny.  Meanwhile, he saw himself expanded with the newfound confidence we were planting, yet light, fast and agile.
  • His tenns racket was the ideal weight, fitting his hand comfortably, and seemed to do all the work for him.
  • The ball seemed to be coming in slow motion, allowing him to see well in advance where to aim, and getting there way ahead of time.
  • I had him hear his name being called as the winner; hear the crowd roaring.  Feel the love coming from them.  Feel the support of fellow players
  • See his father’s joy – for Chris.  Feel the trophy in his hands.
  • Changing his false impression of senior players as superior to him, which had created cowering and muscle tension.
  • Feeling his legs as nimble and filled with energy.

Brighter Performance with EFT

You can’t be in “the Flow” with tension. You can’t be in “the Flow” when your energy is focused outward, anxious about your audience, your family, your teachers, your coach, your opponents.  Consider it like carrying a heavy sack of bricks while trying to perform.
I got my final Skype call from a happy tennis star.  The images we had planted all came to life — even the ball moved slower! And he had just “knocked the socks off” his opponents in six consecutive games. 😊

Blending EFT with a deep instinct for what creates human struggle, I use these same techniques effectively for a variety of physical and emotional issues.  If you feel you could be living greater, with more purpose and passion, I will be so happy to guide you in moving towards your #GreatestPotential.

Self-Value and Its Tentacles

shame-statueDetermined by childhood messages, Self-Value will permeate every facet of our lives in the type of people and experiences we attract. There is no self-blame because it happened at a subconscious level at a time when the child had to protect itself.  Self-Value is undermined by environmental messaging from parents or other notary carers.  This messaging creates our life programmes.  To better understand this, imagine downloading Windows 7, with an expectation of accessing Windows 10.  Impossible!  We first have to overwrite the old programme with one that better serves our needs.

Self-Value is diminished by ‘Trauma’. For a child, trauma can be as simple as expressing Self in a moment of open vulnerability and trust, only to be met with responses that cause deep Shame, such as:

  • Verbal aggression/anger/shouting
  • Mockery
  • Undermining of the child’s efforts
  • Pointing out mistakes – ‘Wrong, wrong’ or how s/he could have done it better – ‘Not right Enough’
  • Judging, condemning, impatience with child’s efforts
  • Blame Game – Habitual in many families. Pointing the finger
  • Putting child on a pedestal from which the child fears ‘falling off to a huge drop’, the responsibility of pleasing the parent daunting and out of reach for them to maintain; expectation of parental disappointment resulting in a child assuming failure, hence never trying in a defeatist response
  • Setting family codes of ethics too high to live up to, by which the child feels overwhelmed and a charlatan; unworthy of being a family member
  • Teaching a child to put other’s needs, wants and emotions first at the cost of their own – perhaps reminded to consider a needy sibling or a needy parent.


A child’s priority is to feel safe in parental love for who they are. The above ‘traumas’ create a need to perform for conditional love, In these moments we download limiting beliefs: “It is not safe to be Me”.  “I am unloveable”.

We also learn to respond to the Guilt Programme. Now it becomes less painful to be a servaholic to other’s demands than to feel the physical reactions of Guilt, i.e. nausea, anxiety, panic, fear, cowering, “I let them down”, “They’ll think I’m selfish and dislike me and talk about me”.  From here on we may as well be a puppet on a string awaiting the command to know how high to jump in efforts to win the prized possession – Approval.  The Reward?  That momentary ‘fix’ that temporarily makes us feel safe, suppressing all connection with our own desires.  Alas, another Performing Monkey is created.

Is it any wonder then that this child becomes an adult who doesn’t know what they want, like or need; always looking to the guidance of other’s opinion in order to make a choice; leaping from one relationship to the next in a pattern of Co-dependency, desperately trying to fill the void of parental love and self-love that is left like an open wound within, waiting to be healed.

The same adult often becomes a PEOPLE PLEASER and PERFECTIONIST to protect themselves through an expectation of guaranteed approval, acceptance, love. Yes, we become addicted to love, our drug being Approval.  It doesn’t work!  We attract people whose love is Conditional on us being a slave to their needs, becoming the carer, the enabler, the shoulder to cry on, the one they can rely on to pick up the pieces; in other words Your average Dogsbody.  Ultimately it leads to anger with self, resentment of those who lean heavy on us and eventually burn out, loss of energy chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and depression.



Low self-value presents in many forms in my clients. These are a few steps you can address on the road toward self-acceptance.  Refer to Youtube – EFT tapping videos

  • Learning to say NO. Until you become more adept at this you can say “I’ll get back to you on it” or “Leave it with me”. We can effectively tap on the fear of “They won’t like me. Do I need people that ‘love’ me only as long as I serve their needs. If that is love, then I can live without it. Time to say Stop to allowing others to emotionally manipulate me for their own needs”.
  • We can tap on fear of anger. It is most effective when we tap it out from its origins, imagining the person who responded to us through anger in childhood while tapping.
  • Fear of making mistakes. Can we change our perspective and see mistakes instead as a learning curve. We haven’t failed. We have eliminated one option on our way closer to success. In the final development of the light bulb, Edison tried over 3,000 designs before getting it right! We are human, nothing more. What if we accepted our right to make mistakes. “Resistance is futile” for whether we like it or not, humans at all levels make mistakes. It is how we learn.
  • The Blame Game: What if life happens and often there IS nobody at fault. In accepting this, it further enables us to feel safer with mistakes.

Neasa x

Neasa De Baroid is a singer, performer and an EFT Practitioner in Cork City