How to perform better under pressure
Sports performance is a fundamental concept for any athlete, whether professional or amateur. And this has a lot to do with motivation. How can such performance vary so much in the same season or during a competition? The answer is simple: the sport pressure. At BEKEEP we offer you the keys so that, as a coach, you get the best out of your team to perform better under pressure in the sport. You will also get, as a professional, to give the most of yourself in each test and be motivated to improve in each race.
The athlete is exposed to many looks and possible criticism. Psychology plays an important role. Feeling evaluated at all times causes you to be more aware of the work done and try to control it so that it goes perfectly. Consequently, a loss of fluidity can be generated in the automatisms. It is scientifically proven that when the naturalness of automatic processes changes due to the slowness of conscious processes, sports performance decreases.
You have to differentiate between training and competition. There are athletes who perform differently. The key would be for them to deliver similar performance in both cases, but that’s not always the case. Sports pressure affects them. We analyze what these changes are due to and what are the factors that influence this to happen. But, above all, we must ask ourselves an important question: What should they do as coaches?
Improve the athletes performance
When we talk about competitive pressure, it is usually a negative concept. The primary objective is to make it positive in order to achieve good results in sports competitions. These are situations, internal or external, that cause the athlete to decrease their performance. Although not always so, sometimes competitive pressure serves to stimulate and motivate the athlete, so that it becomes a positive factor. In this sense, as a coach, you should differentiate very well between negative and positive pressure.
Activation, anxiety and stress
To respond and understand more about sports pressure you must have a good knowledge of the concepts anxiety, stress and activation. Let’s get to know them better:
- Activation: Refers to the physical and psychic process when the organism is put in a state of alert. All functions that respond to the presence of a given stimulus are activated. Some concepts in this sense would be muscle tension, sweating level or heart rate, among others.
- Anxiety: Reaction of the athlete in a state of nerves and tension to a situation that seems dangerous or threatening. Anxiety is an emotional element. For the athlete there are many moments that can come to stress him, such as competing on public, the obligation to win or the mental pressure of being first. The expectations that are generated in a professional can also hurt you emotionally. It should be noted that not all athletes experience anxiety in the same way. While some perform better under pressure, others fall apart.
- Stress: It can be negative or positive. Conceptually it is the response of the organism to adapt in a given situation. The athlete will try to adapt to it trying to maintain a balance in his body. Ultimately, he will respond to what he perceives. If you talk about positive stress it is the one that activates and stimulates the athlete to respond correctly. On the other hand, negative stress, which is also known as distress, is an uncontrolled response of our body.
Negative stress affects the athlete both psychologically, as well as in their decision-making and also muscularly. Do not forget that a lot of accumulated tension causes injuries and stiffness.
How to motivate the athlete to perform better under pressure?
It must be made clear that competitive pressure is not always related to professional sport, although it is where most important is. We also find this concept in stages of improvement and initiation. Special attention should be paid to the latter, when sport means playing and having fun. We should not put sports pressure on children. On many occasions, anxiety and nerves in a child can lead to frustration. This can lead to threatening or unwanted situations, at that time or in the future.
There’s another very important factor in sports pressure: the environment. Coaches aim to take pressure off the athlete and, in this way, reduce their anxiety levels. As a trainer you must motivate him and provide him with optimal physical and psychological conditions, either in training or in competition. Remember the goal: that the athlete get the maximum performance within their possibilities.
Getting the best from an athlete is no easy task for a coach. But if you work well on the concepts of activation, stress and anxiety you will understand your pupils better. You will get them to offer greater sporting performance under pressure. Beyond training, you also need to teach them how to control competitive pressure. Get psychological resources and strategies to make a difference. Here are some tips:
- Know the situations that can be stressful for the athlete.
- Generates controlled pressure situations in training.
- Talk to the athlete about the concepts of success and failure.
- Explain to the athlete where he has improved and do not compare him with other teammates
- Don’t push him beyond his means.
- Practice should generate positive experiences.
Be mentally strong
When we talk about sports pressure the mind can play tricks on us, so mental strength is also important. That inner dialogue that guides our emotional process and interacts directly with performance. Keep it free of negativity, doubt and little confidence. Only in this way will the success rate increase.
As an athlete you must learn to relax to avoid tension and ward off negative thoughts. Visualizing the route or some stretch of the race, concentrating to the maximum, a good breath or music can be good allies to strengthen you mentally.
It is clear, but, to reach high levels you have to learn to perform under the pressure of the result and expectation, as an athlete and also as a coach. Keep one thing clear: world records don’t count if anyone looks.