Usainbolt…always a cartoon character running like speedy Gonzales…..

mental skills coaching

In today’s press conference with Jessie Ennis and Greg Rutherford and at just about every press conference with #Team GB the question comes up ” how do you cope with the pressure?”….how did the pressure of everybody’s expectations get to you?…….you did so well with all the pressure on you!” pressure, pressure, pressure!!

Obviously the interviewers asking these questions don’t know what it’s like to be a champion and have the mind of a champion. Tonight you saw a display of a champion……

Pressure, being pressurised, and the negative physical responses that may come from it are completely your own responsibility and you do it to yourself. A champion knows that so-called ‘pressure’ could be supportive or debilitating and only they will CHOOSE how it goes.

Psychological Pressure is not something that somebody else puts on you nor is it an external force that is in any way exercised upon you to cause pressure from within you. Please do not confuse this kind of pressure with physical pressure (measured in bar/barg) which adheres to the laws of physics. Psychology most certainly does not stick to the laws of physics (you can walk through fire in your own head can’t you?). We may feel the heat, we may feel the pressure, but these are metaphors of language and are not accurately describing the actual processes that are happening underneath. It is tempting to make the mistake that someone shouting at you, telling you that it all relies on you, can MAKE you feel pressure, anxiety etc. , as if the shouting CAUSES the negative feelings inside. This is an illusion that simply is not supported by science. If there really was a causal relationship here then the louder someone shouted the more nervous a human would feel , and this would be a stable predictable relationship of volume and nervousness ( however one decides to define and measure something as subjective as nervousness ) across all humans. Obviously this is not true because our champion athletes show us that we all react differently to different things, including pressure.

So please, drop this idea of ‘pressure’ being ‘too much to handle’ and ‘messing you up’. It is the person that owns their responses, it can’t be any other way. You CHOOSE……

1. Define your triggers for feeling ‘ pressure’ (what specifically do you see hear or feel that tells you it’s time to feel pressure?)

2. With exact detail identify the physical sensations that characterise pressure for you e.g. Movement in stomach, increased heart rate etc….

3. Ask yourself, what is the intention of having these sensations? For what reason would you choose these sensations in response to your triggers? The human system is propelled towards survival and evolution so keep asking the question until you get to a positively stated answer, instead of one that has degrading consequences. (the most common final answer/revelation I hear is ‘ the intention of feeling pressure is actually to keep me sharp to perform fantastically…’s just that feeling this way is overkill and is not exactly achieving that! So, What’s your intention for feeling pressure?)

4. So now you know your intention of feeling like this, pick a way of achieving your intention that is better. Keep it simple . Start by picking a different way of breathing, then another posture. Use it to foster a different psychological state then pick different behaviour, i.e. what you will actually do differently. Now pick at least two additional ways of achieving the same intention.

So make the choice, start thinking like a champ. Pressure what pressure?????!!!!