From playing a backyard volleyball match to playing in the Olympics, pressure is something that every player will experience.
Some players – the lucky ones – are able to perform even better under pressure. But for the rest of us mortals, the pressure becomes too much, and we struggle to make the plays we’ve made a thousand times and repeatedly find that we hit the ball out of bounds or into the volleyball net.
After all, it’s one thing that we want to do our best to meet external expectations, like those of the coach, our teammates, our parents, and the fans. But we also don’t want to let ourselves down and want to do our very best to meet our own expectations like achieving the goals we’ve set ourselves.
So, how can you become one of those lucky people who actually seem to thrive under pressure? Here are a few tips you might find helpful.
Remember that Pressure is Normal
In the heat of the moment and when the pressure is on, it can seem like you’re the only one to have ever faced this pressure situation. But remember that pressure and the feelings that come with it are completely normal. What you are feeling is completely normal.
In fact, we say that if you never feel the pressure then something might be wrong with you. No doubt you want to do your very best to succeed for yourself and others, so feeling pressure just shows that you care about yourself and others.
You’re probably familiar with the quote, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” This quote has withstood the test of time because it is absolutely true.
As long as you have put the time and effort in during practice, you have nothing to fear. You can put your trust and faith in the knowledge that you’ve already put the work in, know what to do, and how to do it. Even if the pressure is on, not many things will catch you off guard and come as a surprise.
Pressure Has Many Advantages
It can be tempting to shun pressure, take the easier option and defer to your teammates. Let someone else deal with it, you think. But if you continually do this, then not only will you never know what you are capable of, but the cycle will repeat until it becomes tougher and tougher to escape.
Here’s a secret: whether you make the play or not, doesn’t really matter. It’s a win-win situation in all instances. You can be happy that you took on the responsibility when others wouldn’t, you will be able to handle the pressure better next time, and/or you won the point.
Watch How Others Handle Pressure
It can be helpful to see how other players handle pressure. These players may be on your team, on the opposition’s team, or perhaps a professional athlete you see on TV.
Look out for what they do in high-pressure situations. Do they look intently focused? Are they chatting with their teammates for support? How do they react to mistakes or a change in the game situation?
If you have the opportunity to speak to a player who seems to handle pressure well, then this is definitely something you should take the opportunity to do to see what works for them and if you can also implement it.