Handling Pressure To Perform: Best Mental Preparation Tips
How can you deal with performance pressure and tension? How can you best do mental preparation, for example as an athlete or any kind of person who needs to perform? Read on for tips on how to deal with this…
Tip 1 – Don’t believe that pressure is real: it is made up
Let’s start with this excellent example: After the final, the English Olympic champions were asked in an interview, “How did you manage the pressure so well?” Their answer was: ‘Why, there is pressure on it? We simply dive into pools. There is nothing more to it, is it? ‘
Had these not been diving divers, but footballers, their answer would probably have been, “We put our feet against balls.” Pressure is nowhere to be seen in that whole story.
But you don’t often hear these kinds of answers from athletes. That is because the next point is often not recognized … The pressure is not in the outside world! Pressure is made up.
The pressure is not in the job interview, not in the Olympic Games, not in the World Cup final and not in the fact that the whole of the Netherlands is watching on TV.
Say: no. We make it all up. Any pressure you feel comes from your thoughts, self-judgment, fear of yourself, and any consequences of poor presentation. The pressure is not coming from the situation. It is a comment that comes from us, not from the situation.
‘Pressure’ is a judgment that you make about a factual situation. Read more about the art of not judging an actual situation here.
Tip 2 – Usually the best wins: pay (even) more attention to practice & preparation
After the Dutch national team took penalties in the semi-finals of the World Cup against Argentina in 2014, Ron Vlaar indicated that he missed his first penalty due to the pressure.
- He didn’t say Argentina’s penalty takers, like Messi, were better at taking penalties.
- He also did not say that the Argentinian keeper was just so good that he managed to stop two from the Netherlands.
- He also did not say that our own Dutch keeper was so bad that he had never stopped one in his entire career.
He didn’t say any of that, because he said it was the pressure. But that pressure does not exist if we can believe the winners during their interviews.
If you have lost, it is not the pressure, but your (lack of) practice and preparation. Usually the team with the best players wins. Usually the athletes who were better (at the time) win. Self-confidence is also about this: you don’t have to focus on ‘pressure’ and ‘psychologization’, but you should focus on improving your skills even better.
If you miss the ball, it is not because of the pressure but because the other person was better at the time.
What awaits you now? Simple: put extra time and attention into practice and preparation. That is where your quality lies.
I know I am never as good or bad as a single achievement. I have never believed my critics and admirers.
– Charles Barkley, one of the greatest American basketball players ever
Tip 3 – Mental training is also training: visualize your perfect performance
Mental preparation is fine. This must be mental preparation to train your skills. No ‘mental preparation’ to learn to deal ‘with the pressure’. So no complicated psychologisation , where you focus on ‘the pressure’. Simply focus your mental preparation on your skills and purpose.
Top athletes such as Michael Jordan, Erben Wennemars, Epke Zonderland and Pieter van den Hoogeband and Roger Federer make a video of the perfect performance in their heads . They repeat those films over and over, so that they are burnt to their retina. In addition, they make a video in which mistakes are made and in which they deal with those mistakes in a relaxed way.
If you want to read steps of this, read the article about this technique ( the New Behavior Generator ).
Tip 4 – Have faith in your own skills, not in the ‘skills’ of your personality
Stop paying attention to your personality. Your personality makes up that there is also such a thing as ‘pressure’. While your personality is busy with that, you are no longer fully engaged in ‘doing’ the world performance.
You probably recognize this: if a top athlete has delivered a world performance, and then gives an interview, what do you always hear? When they are at their best, they say afterwards, “It happened without my noticing. I wasn’t even that, it seemed! ‘ The self consciousness was gone and there was only consciousness left. It’s the real you if you don’t get in your way.
Did we lose even though we developed and practiced our skills perfectly? Then it was the lack of confidence in ourselves and lack of confidence in how well designed we are when we don’t think about anything (like thinking about pressure).
In other words, we are at our best when we are ourselves, or pure consciousness . There is then no ‘I’, but only ‘doing’. We then have no thoughts and personality that believe in ‘pressure’ and add ‘pressure’ to the story.
We are designed for success. Allow that power to come through. Why do you stop and block yourself?
To your success!