How Champion Athletes Overcome Pressure

Getting Ready to compete………………. It’s less than 1 hour away from competition and every athlete is getting ready. Some athletes are physically warming up by doing some repetitions of a few basic skills. Others are stretching and listening to music, and some are strategizing with their coach and loved ones, while others are alone collecting their thoughts.   Different Routines, Same Goal…………………….. You’ll see different routines from every athlete and while no particular routine is necessarily wrong, the mindset in which they are preparing themselves for when they compete must be exactly on point. It is the mentality that needs to be tapped into to understand the deeper meaning of how athletes are readying themselves for competition and more specifically, how athletes are readying themselves for pressure.   The Common trend………. Too often, non-champion athletes perceive pressure as a threat that must be avoided at all cost. They may start worrying about possible future outcomes and already prepare their mind for possible defeat.   Champion Athletes…………………. Similar to non-champion athletes, they may also feel pressure. However, the big difference is that champion athletes view that same pressure as an opportunity and look forward to the physical sensation that pressure brings.   A winning mentality portrayed through one very special SPMI athlete……… Recently, one of my younger athlete’s (9 years old), a very talented, competitive go kart racer, stated that for him, “Pressure is what I like the most about competing. It is the most exciting part.” He mentioned that, “without pressure, it would not be fun.” In addition, he said that, he prefers “a harder race” when his competitors are even better than him.   Why is this response out of the ordinary…………?   Too often, athletes fear pressure and worry about future mistakes or other competitors and even disappointing others. It is important to remember that pressure is a part of competition. It is not about eliminating all of the pressure but instead it is about how an athlete is able to manage it.   Having fun with pressure…………….. One plan of action that I encourage athletes to start working on is to practice enjoying pressure. To enjoy pressure athletes need to readjust their goals. Also, athletes should sit down and talk with their support team (parents, coaches, etc.). By letting his or her support team know that the athlete is going out there focusing on enjoyment over winning may help reassure an athlete's trust with those who also care the most about results and may feel calmer in even the toughest moments. Want to learn more? Sign up below for our SPMI mental toughness newsletter and start receiving free mental toughness tips and more!