It’s March Madness time! There have been some GREAT GAMES so far and I LOVE championships in any sport.
Watching teams compete when it's "win or go home" is thrilling.
I really came to terms with my love of championship competition when I had the opportunity to serve on the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships Committee. Although I knew very little about fencing when I started, watching these athletes compete at the highest level was awesome! Although the sport was foreign in many ways, everything about the competition was familiar!
No matter the sport or arena, we all face very similar situations in competition and performance.
We tell our athletes that the game is always the same, no matter where we play or what tournament we are in.
It’s true. The game doesn’t change. Like the movie Hoosiers points out, the bases are still the same distance from the plate, the rim is still 10 feet from the floor, the pitch is still the same size (approximately), etc.
If only our minds were so consistent!
But things do change and watching champions, like those in the NCAA Fencing Championships, hammered home that how we handle pressure and expectations makes a huge difference in performance.
Admit it! We sometimes feel and act differently based on the ramifications of the game’s outcome. We think a little bit differently, we feel different and thus, we behave a little differently… and so do our players!
If we know this happens, how can we do a better job of managing the pressure we allow to slip in at conference or tournament time?
Clearly, the more we focus on routines and consistency, the better. The more we see what we want instead of what we don’t want makes a difference. And as we talked about last week, turning more our “what ifs” from thoughts of catastrophe to thoughts of victory, we are putting ourselves in a more productive position.
If we can shift our mindset with a few questions, we can alleviate some of the pressure that is inherent in certain situations!
First, think about how the pressure could wain if we could training ourselves to walk into practice and pressure-filled games and asking, “how can I help?”
When we focus on what we can do to help others or make the situation better we take pressure
off our own performance. This changes our perspective and forces us to look for solutions instead of looking for problems.
When we are looking to help, we are observing the situation – what is going on around us. It puts us in a selfless mode…meaning we are literally thinking of our SELF LESS! This is often helpful since when we are thinking of ourselves, we can get lost in that non-productive narrative that runs in a full-court press during pressure situations!
Regardless of how helpful we are, things aren’t always going to go our way.
Whether your sport has continuous play like soccer or basketball, or if you have built-in stops in play like softball or golf, how we manage those less than desirable happenstances determines how we face the next play.
That should prompt the next question of “what’s important now?”
We can acknowledge what happened. We all know it happened, but it is what it is!
The most important thing is that we move on to the next play or we will be a step slow as we hang on to what just happened or spend time fretting about what is about to happen. And we know what happens then!
As the sayings go, full minds are empty bats and tight muscles are slow muscles!
Isn’t it amazing how much of our physical action is determined by where our thoughts are at the moment?
Full mind = empty bat. This has nothing to do with our ability to hit the ball. It has everything to do with our ability to pick a pitch that will help make us successful.
Tight muscles = slow muscles. Again, this has nothing to do with our speed, flexibility or natural ability to react.
Both have everything to do with how we handle the pressure of any given situation.
Are we present?
What’s important now?
You can go one step further if you have the time and break it down into - Where are we? What do we need to do? How will we do it?
We don’t always have time to answer the three follow-up questions, but if we do, answering them keeps us searching for ways to help and move forward!
No matter how much time we have. No matter what’s at stake. No matter who we are facing. If we focus on how we can help and look for ways to make the situation better AND if we focus on what is important now, we are diffusing pressure by being outwardly focused and solutions-
We are not worried about what we HAVE to do. We are focused on what we WANT to do and what we CAN do.
Seems like a pretty good place to be if we want to be our best!
As you look at your week, how can you help and what’s important now?
I am off to see how I can make my next team better 😊!
Have a great week!
P.S. I would love to help you and your team with what’s important to your success.
Call today and let’s set a plan that fits your team. Don’t have the budget for a full program right now? Schedule a team session today or check out my online courses at www.ssbperformance.com/courses