Earlier in my life, I would define myself as a "basketball player". LIke many aspiring athletes I spent many hours mentally and physically practicing hitting the "big shot" to win the game.
Looking back, some shots fell, others fell a little short. It's been a while since I've hit a three pointer, and even longer since I've dunked a basketball, but that doesn't mean there are not pressure situations now that I am a husband, father and business owner.
A good friend shared a book title with me called Crunch Time, written in part by a former MLB pitching coach, Rick Peterson. The title intrigued me enough to add it to my (out of control) Audible Library. Here are my key take-aways:
1. Reframe. When you're feeling pressure, reframe the situation. Look for the "opportunity" that may be hidden in the "threat". Adding pressure to succeed will only tighten us up and decrease the likelihood of a successful outcome. Reframing can help us put things into perspective and reduce the emotional (over) reaction.
2. Reduce the pressure to succeed by focusing on exceeding our "average" performance, not our personal best. It is unreasonable to expect to set a personal best at every outing. If we focus on exceeding our average each time, we will be steadily moving in a positive direction.
3. Preparation is the key to performance. While we don't want to "try harder" during performances, we do want to make our practice put us into extraordinary situations. That way, when we are performing in the real event, we can be confident in our preparation and just perform with the muscle memory we've established during deep practice. The authors shared some great anecdotes of the crazy situations Michael Phelps' coach would put him through so that if (when) something goes wrong during "crunch time", he was prepared. This looked like intentionally hiding his goggles before a swim meet so he had to learn to overcome obstacles during the competition. When he set a world record at the Bejing Olympics, he actually swam with broken goggles. It wasn't the first time he was in that situation. He was prepared.
Like many pieces of content, the "eat the watermelon, spit out the seeds" warning applies here. The book hops on the "Crocodile Brain" band-wagon with some evolutionary refrences. While I concur with some of the observations of how we humans can react very emotionally under pressure situations, I don't ascribe it to evolution. The brain is a tremendous aspect of our amazing design, created by an amazing Designer. We're still figuring out how it works, for sure! Soli Deo gloria
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