You might think of pressure as a bad thing. But performing under pressure is actually a great opportunity to grow and get to the next level. Moving past your fear of failure can be uncomfortable, but if you are always comfortable, you will never be great.
There are three ways to harness the power of a high pressure situation and use it to improve your performance.
1. Put it in perspective.
Pay attention when you feel pressure rising, and take a moment to put the situation in perspective. Playing a game is not a matter of life or death. If you strike out or hit a home run, it does not really matter in the big picture of life. It does not devalue you as a person whether you succeed or fail. Often, athletes let the moment get too big. They think of the crowd, their parents, their teammates, their schools, and the pressure gets out of control. It is no wonder they are tight and timid when playing. Keeping perspective is absolutely key.
2. Prepare to be great.
The best athletes feel the most calm and ready when they have put in the work to be ready. When you are focused on your goals, your body is in shape, you have put in the work, and you trust your teammates and coaches have done the same, you can rest in the fact that you have taken care of everything you can control. There are no shortcuts on the way to a championship. The more work you put in, the more deserving you feel when those moments are presented to you. Every hour, every workout, every injury, and hard decisions have prepared you.
3. Embrace your good fortune.
Take a deep breath and recognize how lucky you are to be playing the game you love with your friends. How lucky you are to be in this place, with the skills and abilities to play. When you give up control of the outcome and just give it your all, no outcome is negative.
Pressure is a strange beast. It comes to those who desire to succeed. Think of it as an opportunity and a launching pad into your future.