Perform Your Best Under Pressure in Sport

The biggest problem every athlete has is learning how to create unshakable confidence under pressure. Most sport psychologists will never tell you that virtually all athletes have the exact same reaction when they are not performing well.

First, they become frustrated and a bit angry.

Second, they lose their confidence, worried they’re going to get worse and worse.

Third, they tell themselves to ‘get over’ their loss of confidence put pressure on themselves to feel better, fast.

None of these reactions leads to consistent, magnificent athletic performance.

Performing your best under pressure in sport is a matter of emotional self-mastery in the key moments of competition.

Mastering Fear and Performance Anxiety

To be confident under pressure, you must know how to handle your fear, frustration, and performance anxiety.

Why? Because these negative feelings have to potential to destroy your ability to trust yourself under pressure.

For example,

(a) Let’s imagine that you are playing tennis and you start hitting your shots into the net.

(b) Instantly, you become upset, because you want to be more consistent. Frustrated, you try and guide or steer the ball, which interferes with your technique enough to erode your game.

(c) By knowing a better way to handle your anger than trying to steer the ball, you can prevent this from happening again. Instead, you have a better plan for how to deal with your anger. As a result, your emotional climate does not change; you play even better after your bad shots.

(d) As you get better at mastering fear, you become more unflappable, more consistent under pressure, and more impressive to everyone– especially yourself.

By understanding exactly how to manage fear and frustration when you perform poorly, you can become immune to virtually any distraction.

Since you found this article, you probably already know that there many self-help and sport psychology techniques out there. You’ve probably even tried some of them.

The problem is that most of these techniques don’t work.

Why Many Sport Psychology Techniques Fail Long Term

Affirmations, positive thinking, and visualization (or whatever) pump you up temporarily, but the moment you stop doing them, your fear and performance anxiety come back.

This is because you are using a lone “technique” that may or may not fit the competitive situation you are facing.

Let me give you an example…

Have you ever been told by a coach or sport psychologist to re-gain your confidence by thinking more positively?

Did it work?

I’m betting that it worked sometimes, but other times, it only made you more frustrated and anxious.

There are times in competition when positive thinking is the wrong technique. In these situations, you’re better off not pressuring yourself to be positive. Here’s why: being positive means finding something good in the situation, e.g., ‘It’s great that I lost that competition because I need a day off.’

The problem with trying to be positive in all situations is that there may not be anything good about the problem you are facing. Trying to force a positive reaction in such a situation will only deflate you.

Case in point:

Rather than telling yourself to be positive when things are collapsing around you, a better idea is to ask yourself for optimism instead.

Optimism is not being positive.

Optimism is the ability to find hope by believing that the challenges you are facing are temporary.

If you follow football, you know that the New England Patriots got off to a rocky start back in 2006.

One cause was the subpar play of Tom Brady, New England’s Superbowl MVP quarterback. Brady finally admitted that the trade of a top receiver and the loss of other offensive players upset him and the team.

But, like the champion he is, Brady viewed the slump as temporary. In the middle of the slump, he said: ”We’ll improve everybody’s state of mind and body language. It will be good for our confidence to go out and play to the level we’re capable of.”

To restore your confidence in a slump, release yourself from the burden of trying to be happy and positive right away. Instead, just try to be optimistic. Find as many rational reasons as possible to believe your slump is temporary. Then, quietly channel your frustration into performing better.

Soon, you’ll light it up other there, and your confidence will return.

You can see now that there are many other mental toughness and sport psychology techniques than positive thinking— and the sooner you educate yourself in them, the better off you’ll be.

Your friend, Lisa Lane Brown

About the Author

Lisa Lane Brown is a professional speaker, author and coach who helps people win using mental toughness. A former world class athlete, Lisa is the author of the Courage to Win formula, which she has taught to thousands of achievers worldwide.