Today’s tip for dealing with pressure is so simple you can teach it to a 6 year old. And yet it is so powerful, it has the potential to diminish all feelings of pressure within seconds in a competition. It comes down to this one thing: How to Focus Under Pressure to Perform Under Pressure.
Today I share technique #4 for how to perform under pressure.
You’re following my blog, yes? Have you gotten the idea yet that the key to performing under pressure is to prepare for and practice mental skills BEFORE you ever get to the pressure situation?
I’m still amazed that in this day and age there are athletes wanting to get to the next level of their sport and they do next to nothing for their mental game.
The Mental Game is as Important as Game Time
Sports psychology is now a science. It’s not a bunch of quotes from successful athletes.
You may be blessed with a mind that is wired to work well for your sport under pressure and do pretty well. However you can ALWAYS improve just like you can always improve your physical skills.
Why do athletes ignore this huge piece of the success puzzle when it’s way beyond proven and actually easier to work on than physical skills?
Ok, I’m done with my rant. You aren’t one of those athletes. You know the value of leaning on your mental skills to help your physical skills perform under pressure.
Whenever you are under pressure and have any time to think before performing, find ONE thing to focus on.
ONE thing to lock your mind and your eyes onto.
Think like golfers do.
They have one goal… put a ball in a cup at the bottom of a flag. While they are getting ready to hit, they are thinking about that cup. If they are too far away, they focus on a spot on the ground and the shot that they want to hit. The same applies for all sports…
A billiards player will just stare at one of the balls or at a target pocket.
A soccer player locks his mind on the corner of the goal he wants to put the ball in while concentrating on the ball.
A swimmer just stares at the wall where she will make the turn.
A wrestler focuses on a spot on the mat.
Focus. That’s what we’re talking about.
The interesting thing is, you don’t even have to focus on something that relates to your sport.
The point is, the ability to focus under pressure can overcome just about any mental or emotional problem, including the pressure itself.
It’s especially helpful for sports where you have to wait for your opponent to perform like football or bowling. Bowlers commonly look straight down at the floor when their opponent is up. What their opponent does means nothing.
Practice this before you ever get to a pressure situation. Your ability to focus and direct your mind improves the more you work on it, just like any physical skill.
Imagine you have a “focus muscle” that gets stronger with your mental workouts.
Under pressure, your opponents will do everything they can to distract you and put more pressure on you. A strong focus is your defense and it also helps to ground you in the present moment.
More help on improving your focus muscle later…