Pro Athletes Deal With Pressure

How Professional Athletes Deal With Pressure

This post is a part of a guest blog series written by Seattle Reign professional soccer players and ZGiRLS Leaders Elli Reed (@ElliReed) and Lauren Barnes (@Laurenkb31).

You are in the semi-final game against your biggest rivals.  Your team is projected to win, but the weather and the referee are all playing for the other team.  There are three minutes left in stoppage time and your team is down by a goal.  All you need is a tie to move on to the finals.  Adrenaline and panic is running through the team.  You can’t hear what your coach is saying but she is on her feet pacing the sideline.  The crowd is cheering loudly for their favorite team.  You take a look at your team; some look scared, some focused, and others disinterested.  You realize that pressure is on.

If you have ever played a sport, then you have probably experienced a high-pressure situation like the one demonstrated above.  Day in and day out, athletes at every level are expected to perform at their best in the pursuit of success.  Often what matters most, is an athlete’s ability to deal with pressure.

We sat down with a few of the Reign players to see how they deal with pressure.

“For me, pressure is felt when there is an expectation for me to succeed, but also an opportunity for me to fail. Throughout my career I have realized that the best way for me to define success and failure as an athlete (and in life really) is as follows: improving is succeeding and failing is learning…period. So in understanding this, I realized that for me dealing with pressure is all about how I view my expectation of success, and the perspective I take on failure.”

“Pressure will come from one of two angles; internal and external. Internal pressure is that little voice that is speaking to you, telling you that you have to score, that you can’t miss practice even though you have homework, telling you to play even though you don’t feel 100%. External pressure comes from expectation, scrutiny and consequence of situations out of your control.  My solution to it all is to always back yourself, stay on task, focus on the present moment, and to always give your very best. This, after all, is all that we truly have control over. Also, always stay true to yourself and your values, that is what will matter in the end.”

Every athlete experiences pressure, what matters is how you handle it.

Learn how to take on pressure in a positive way and with the correct mindset, and pressure suddenly is no longer a “negative” thing.  Practice channeling pressure correctly, and soon you’ll find that it enhances your performance rather than hurts it.

Pictured: Hope Solo

Photo Credit: Jane G Photography

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