“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Imagine you’re in the final few seconds of a championship game, the crowd is on their feet, the media are watching your every move, the scores are tied and it all comes down to you for the win… do you succeed and make the shot? Or do you falter under the pressure?
All athletes have to deal with pressure. But working out how to help their athletes perform better under pressure is a problem that affects many Coaches. In fact, some might say that increasing mental toughness is the number 1 problem Coaches face these days. What it comes down to, is understanding how to build resilience in your athletes and that performing under pressure is a skill that takes practice, and discipline.
Perform Under Pressure
Often people put too much emphasis on the physical capabilities of an athlete and forget that it’s the mental skills, the mental toughness, that makes or breaks the athlete. It’s the ‘mental game’ that ultimately wins the race or match. Being mentally tough and able to perform at your best under pressure is what distinguishes the elite athletes from the ordinary.
Think of it like this. Pressure is a continuum from none to immense. The further you move along this scale during a game or match, the more pressure you feel and certain things start to happen – increased heart rate, breathing rate, butterflies etc. How you learn to recognize and control these symptoms of pressure determines how well you can use them to your advantage in the heat of competition. Not performing under pressure occurs when an athlete thinks too much about the outcome rather than the process. Once you learn how to recognize what’s happening, you can put processes into place to either control or use these emotions to your advantage. And this, like most things, takes knowledge and practice.
If you want to know more about how to help your athletes build mental toughness and resilience so they can perform at their best under pressure, you should check out our program – ATHLETE TOUGH. Our Handbook & Video Series was produced by 4 x Olympian and 3 x Olympic Medalist, Bo Hanson, to answer the call of Coaches wanting to know how they can build mental toughness in their athletes. We’ve dedicated en entire chapter to Staying Tough Under Pressure, but that’s not all. You can learn more about Conditioning Toughness, Building a Tough Identity, Getting in the Green Zone and more with 15 chapters full of proven strategies to help your athletes become, and stay, ATHLETE TOUGH. Visit this link for more information and to view a sample chapter and video!