What Helps Athletes Win When The Game is on The Line?
Imagine yourself in a situation during a competition when the outcome of the game rests upon your shoulders…
How do you think you would respond?
Would you get nervous and freeze? Would your mind be taken over by negative thoughts? Would you fear failing when teammates depended on you?
Or would you just walk onto the field and, despite feeling some nerves, rise to the level of pressure?
The “unlikely hero” is a role that many young athletes seek to avoid. These athletes do not want the pressure associated with performing in critical competitive moments.
What if you stepped on the field and knew you could perform well under pressure?
What if you could learn to perform at your peak despite the situation… would you relish the opportunity to be the potential hero?
We call this type of athlete the gamer–a person who raises the level of their performance under pressure.
Succeeding under pressure is a matter of two things: (1) managing your perception of the situation and (2) trusting the skills you practice every day.
If you can perform an action in practice, then you have the ability to perform that action no matter what the competitive situation.
Freshman BYU kicker, Jake Oldroyd, was an unlikely hero in the Cougars’ 18-16 victory over the University of Arizona in the Cactus Kickoff Classic.
Oldroyd kicked a 33-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the game to give BYU an opening season victory.
What makes Oldroyd an unlikely hero?
Oldroyd is a walk-on freshman who didn’t even know if he would be making the trip for the game…
Oldroyd was not even the starter for the game and never even made it into the game until the game was on the line with less than 10 seconds left to play…
Also, Oldroyd is recovering from a torn meniscus and sprained MCL that occurred early in training camp.
Despite his challenges, when thrust in the game with the game on the line, Oldroyd calmly stepped onto the field and made the critical field goal.
OLDROYD: “I just put on the helmet when it’s game time and try to block everything else out. I just stayed focused. I had put my head down and gotten a couple of reps. I knew we were going to get a kick, but I didn’t know how long it would be. I knew I was going to put it through.”
Oldroyd was able to perform under pressure by managing the situation and doing what he does in practice on a regular basis.
Instead of thinking about how big the kick is, Oldroyd relished the situation. He thought of the times he made big kicks and his ability to perform when the game is on the line. Then, Oldroyd trusted his skills from practice to make the kick.
Being the hero isn’t doing something out of the ordinary but doing what you are capable of doing despite the pressure.
Tips for performing well when the game is on the line:
1. Let go of the outcome and what it means if you win the game.
2. Instead of worrying about failing, recalling the times you have made successful attempts will help you manage the pressure and perform with confidence.
3. Tell yourself, “Hit another kick just like you do in practice everyday!”
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