Rugby World Cup fans have clear ‘tells’ that signal a change in their confidence

Rugby World Cup fans have been given advice on how to tell if their pals are losing confidence in their teams. England supporters will be likely showing many of the signs when they take on world No 6 Argentina on Saturday night.

Research carried out by PokerStars shows that 53 per cent of fans fidget when they are not comfortable with how their team are performing. A solid 52 per cent avoid eye contact and 48 per cent touch their face.

Behavioural Psychologist Jo Hemmings who has teamed up with PokerStars to reflect on the research, said: “When you feel nervous or anxious, your brain activates the body’s stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response. The reason that people exhibit these tells is because it is a way that they can cope with their emotions, providing a temporary relief from feelings of tension.

“It’s understandable that people want to look for ways to combat these habits and manage their behaviour under pressure. The problem is that a lot of these tells are on auto-response, so we have little control over what happens, and others are habits that can be difficult to break because we have adopted them over time and when associated with stressful situations or excitable scenarios. However, there are tactics we can adopt to try to remain cool and collected when feeling out of our comfort zone.”

Jo Hemmings’ top 10 tips to control your ‘tells’

1. Increase your self-awareness: Identify your common tells – physical, verbal, or even changes in your tone of voice. Once you recognise your tells, you can work on managing them.

2. Practice relaxation methods: Learn and practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to help you stay calm.

3. Positive mental attitude: Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of your abilities and past successes to boost your self-assurance.

4. Prepare thoroughly: Whether it’s a speech, presentation, or an important conversation, the more you know and understand the topic, the more confident you’ll feel.

5. Visualise success: Visualisation can help reduce anxiety and build self-assurance.

6. Practice under pressure: Rehearse your presentation in front of a trusted friend or colleague who can provide feedback. You can even record this and play it back to see some of your tells for yourself.

7. Keep a steady pace: When under pressure, slow down your movements, speech, and thinking. Rushing can make your tells more pronounced. Take deliberate, measured actions.

8. Control your body language: Avoid nervous gestures, fidgeting, or excessive blinking. Maintain good posture and eye contact to convey confidence. Using progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and then relaxing each muscle group, can help train your body language tells.

9. Stay in the moment: Focus on the task at hand and the immediate steps you need to take. Listen to what is being asked of you and avoid thinking about the potential consequences or what might happen in the future.

10. Ask for feedback: After a high-pressure situation, ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends. They can provide insights into your performance and help you identify areas for improvement.

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