Thursday, January 23, 2014

How To Perform Under Olympic Pressure

This is a from an email that Soccer Psychology Tips sent to me. They have a number of good articles.  I recommend checking out the site after you read what is below.

If you have been watching any of the Pre-Olympic interviews, mental game talk is everywhere. Olympians discuss pressure, confidence, focus, and positive self-talk as they prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

You might even notice a bigger emphasis on the mental aspect of being an Olympian compared to the physical side.

The Olympics bring pressure to athletes, no doubt. Athletes who have trained for years compete for their country and personal pride, but only the mentally tough survive.

Why Expectations Create Pressure?

Pressure can come from many different areas in soccer. Soccer players need to first recognize when they are putting pressure on themselves. Think about what you demand or expect of yourself during your performance. Many athletes have strict expectations such as winning every game or not making any mistakes.

Letting go of expectations may be easier said than done. Expectations have usually developed over years and years and cannot be eliminated completely.

Strict expectations are common sources of pressure for athletes. Athletes who feel pressured should let go of outcome expectations and direct their focus on the present moment.

The goal is to replace your expectations with manageable goals. A soccer player might focus on making runs and taking players on instead of how many goals they want to score.

Focusing on the outcome or the result of the competition creates nervousness and anxiety. Many athletes experience pregame jitters before competition which can be either helpful or harmful to their performance, depending how they react to these nerves.

Sometimes soccer players are so anxious (or excited) they can't sleep the night before completion. They experience a rapid heart rate, heavy breathing and sweaty palms prior to game time.

Managing these nerves is imperative for athletes to be able to compete under pressure and at the highest level.

3 Tips To Help You Perform Under Pressure

1. Focus on what you can control. Athletes can get so wrapped up in things beyond their control. A soccer player may worry about not playing well in the rain. Instead, focus on what you can control such as your pre-competition routine and your game plan for the upcoming competition.

2. Throw out expectations. Expectations can cause athletes to feel pressured. They think too much about how they should be doing. Soccer players often expect to have perfect passes and worry about giving the ball up. It is more helpful to focus on combining with your teammates and making offensive runs.

3. Use pregame jitters to your advantage. Many athletes think that their rapid heart rate, heavy breathing, and sweaty palms are a sign of nervousness or that something is wrong. But, you can change the way you think about your pregame jitters. Those physical signs actually are signs that your body is ready for the competition.

Olympians spend just as much time training their mind as they do their body. Mental toughness does not come easily.