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So Much Pressure. What I Learned at a Tryout!

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Mindset Made Simple Tip #59 - Click HERE to watch or listen!

Yesterday was a great day! I have been given the opportunity to run the USA Softball High Performance Program in our region and yesterday was tryout day.

Young people came to the tryout with dreams of becoming a part of a program that is designed to lead to opportunities with Team USA.

No pressure here! Tryouts are HARD!

I always admired those who came to walk-on tryouts when I was coaching Division I softball. It TAKES GUTS to walk in and show your stuff in front of coaches and players you don’t know…those who are already a part of the program you would love to join! We had some AMAZING walk-ons at Akron and Cleveland State, and I am grateful for their contributions!

Yesterday was no different. The young athletes who rolled up to the field put on their USA Softball T-shirts and began warming up to show their stuff. They had guts, too!

As I read through the day’s protocol, there were smiles of joy, smiles of apprehension and no smiles at all! I carefully read each face to see if it would show any indication of who would move on with confidence and who would feel the pressure.

What these athletes did not realize was that they were not only showcasing their physical skills, but their mental skills also spoke volumes about who they are as players.

The tryout was a great place to observe the power of the Ps of peak performance — being PRESENT, being POSITIVE, POSTURE and PROCESS.

Out of the aforementioned order, but most noticeable was POSTURE.

The range of POSTURE was HUGE! As my college professors always said “you cannot not communicate” and yesterday was no exception…without words!

All these kids were into it! They all laid it out there!

Some exuded confidence. Some smiled ear to ear. Some threw their bodies all about after a mistake. Some walked on eggshells. Some almost seemed to shrink in size as things didn’t their way.

Watching these young athletes got me thinking about how truly important this stuff is! I often wonder what my son will remember about me when I am long gone…or when he leaves home to grow on his own. One thing I hope he remembers me telling him “STAND TALL” or “CHIN UP.” I want him to take up space and shine the light that burns so brightly in him…no matter if the ball bounces to him or past him!

Past tips have highlighted the importance of our “stand tall/chin up” POWER POSTURE.

I wonder how some of the performances would have changed had I stopped them and asked them to strike the Superman or Wonder Woman pose. Click HERE for a quick synopsis!

Pressure changes us — but being aware of how it affects us allows us to carry it like a superhero.

The other thing that was obvious was the truth in the statement I share with all my teams and athletes right out of the gate — WE MUST CONTROL OURSELVES BEFORE WE CAN CONTROL ANYTHING ELSE!

As I was surveying posture, I watched several young athletes lose control…and it did not make their skill work any better. In fact, it made it much worse! There is no way we can be PRESENT if we are not in control!

It made me want to stop the work and have a quick lesson on breathing, refocusing techniques and other tools we can use to do our best to find the control we need to perform at our best…no matter what the circumstance.

How would taking 3 or 4 seconds to review a personal highlight changed the next ground ball?

How would taking a deep breath changed the next throw? How would using a reset word or mistake ritual have changed the swing?

So much of what I observed yesterday had nothing to do with mechanics or physical ability. For some of the athletes, we may never know the depths of their true athletic prowess because it was hidden behind the pressure of performance.

For others, it appeared that they were able to keep the pressure from affecting their performances.

My next thought was…how good could this group be if they had a true understanding of these tools. Maybe they do spend time working on the mental game. Or maybe the ball just bounced their way, or the pitches were perfect for them, and they avoided the chatter we all face that takes us off our game.

Either way, what I witnessed only solidified my determination to share the benefits of mental performance training with as many people as possible.

For all of you college coaches, wouldn’t it be awesome if kids came to you with the tools necessary to withstand the pressures they are about to face as college athletes?

For those of you leading a business…how would it impact your bottom line to have your employees possess the tools to walk into a huge sales presentation like they own it and bounce back from mistakes without affecting the next thing on the busy agenda?

At some point, we all lose it. Our posture changes…our mind goes takes us down the rabbit hole of doubt, frustration and disbelief.

This is life for those who put themselves out there.

How we handle it makes a difference if we capitalize on our opportunities or not!

Human nature sets up to survive, but not necessarily to excel. That we must choose!

It all goes back to choices…a plan…the right tools.

And as a colleague told me today… “chance goes to the prepared mind!” (Thanks, Kevin 😊)

I wonder how different some final ratings may have looked had I stopped the tryout to spend a few minutes talking about the POWER of our mind and our ability (or inability) to control it! I guess we will never know!

Have a great week!


P.S. Planning your mental training is as important as planning your practices. I would love to help your team increase its performance by teaching them the power of their minds. Give me a call or text at 234–206–0946 or send me an email at


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