Get to Green: A 3 Step System to Control Your Nerves

Reflecting back when I struggled as a performer – whether in public speaking or as a two sport Division I athlete – one of the main reasons for this lack of execution was because I would loose control of my focus and  physiology.

Think about a time when you lost control of your internal state: elevated heart rate, sweating profusely, a million thoughts swirling at once, tight chest, shallow breathing, and feeling like everyone is watching you. What were your triggers that created this negative internal environment?

A huge tool to master your mindset is to take control over this internal activation and arousal levels. A system I learned a few years ago to take back control of our biochemistry is to know your signal lights... just like riding a car and seeing traffic lights. This is from the book Heads Up Baseball by Dr. Ken Ravizza.

A pioneer in sport and performance psychology, the late Dr. Ken Ravizza

A pioneer in sport and performance psychology, the late Dr. Ken Ravizza


When you are “green” that is the most optimal state you can be in. You’re in rhythm, confident, and locked-in. “Yellow” means proceed with caution. You may have failed or been exposed to an outside stimulus that is beginning to elevate your biochemistry. Red means “hot mess.” You are completely out of rhythm, out of focus, and your arousal levels have spiked to heights that impede your ability to be present and in control.

Listen to Master Your Mindset Podcast Ep 51 to learn how to Get to Green.  

Try this system to help take control of your signal lights. I call it AMC. Just like the movie theater company. Take control and be the director of your performance. This system has three steps. 


STEP 1: Awareness

“A” stands for Awareness. Before each rep or action, check in with yourself. When you sense yourself going to yellow, develop a routine to get back to green (ex: take a deep breath, have a focal point to recenter your focus, have a “reset” word, etc.).

STEP 2: Mission

“M” is for Mission. Simplify your thoughts and quiet your internal noise by clearly defining what action you will execute. Focus on your mission instead of things you cannot control (other peoples opinions, the competition, the environment that you are in, etc.).

STEP 3: Compete

“C” is for Compete. As Dr. Ravizza would say, “Are you so bad that you need your A-game every time to win?” Compete with 100% of what you have in that moment to execute and be your best. Change your body language to be big, positive, and with conviction. If you only have 70%, give 100% of that 70%.

If you can take control of your signal lights and have a plan to get to green, you will be more present in the moment, and you will see your focus and execution reach to new heights!

Watch this 1 minute video to help you get to green! 


Collin is a peak performance coach that works with performers in all fields: business, sport, academia, and leadership. Buy his books here.  

Collin Henderson