Mental Edge: The mindset for a big competition

Photo: Gregory Payan/AP Photo

All athletes want to come up BIG in BIG moments such as:

* The Fighter who wants that knockout punch.

* The golfer who dreams of sinking a birdie putt to win a golf tournament.

* The basketball player who wants to sink the final shot to win a playoff game.

* The baseball reliever who dreams of striking out the side in the ninth inning to win a game against a rival baseball team.

Unfortunately, many athletes not only fall short, but under perform in BIG moments. Many athletes believe they just don’t have what it takes to perform BIG in BIG moments. These athletes see this type of performance as reserved for a few top-tier athletes. Not only is that untrue but it doesn’t address why so many athletes under perform. Basically, under performing in big moments boils down to expectations and pressure. The higher you set your expectations, the greater the pressure and, thus, many athletes fail to perform up to their abilities.

There are two main reasons why athletes under perform in these circumstances:

  1. One reason is that some athletes see the competition as BIGGER than it is. That is they place too much importance on the competition. When you see the competitions as bigger than it is, you create more pressure.
  1. The other reason is that athletes feel they need to perform BIGGER than they ever have in the past. Excessively high expectations coupled with trying to be perfect are a recipe for under-performance.

Now, the right approach to a competition doesn’t ensure a victory but it fosters consistency and keeps your mind from over-emphasizing the importance of a competition. Remember that “focusing on the process brings desired results.” You don’t want to obsess about what winning or losing the BIG game would mean to you. Instead, you want to focus on one play, point, shot or pitch at a time!

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