For many athletes, performance pressure outweighs the joy of competing.
Do you have fun competing in games or tournaments? Do you enjoy exploring your potential or does competition make your feel stressed?
Sports are enjoyable for many reasons. You may have fun in practice. You might have a lot of friends on your team. You might like to master skills…
Nevertheless, the tricky question is: are you excited about games and the challenges of competing?
But did you know you can feel pressure, still have fun, and perform at your peak? The key is managing your expectations.
When expectations are unrealistically high, you experience greater pressure. Every move you make, you feel, is being scrutinized.
You second-guess every decision. You feel the need to be perfect. When you are unable to manage expectations, your game will be off. No matter your sport, high expectations and pressure make it difficult to enjoy the experience of competing.
For example, a high school soccer player may believe he must score at least one goal per game to earn a scholarship to his dream college. Playing for this college team has been his goal for years.
He thinks if he doesn’t receive a scholarship, he will not be able to afford tuition or play at the Division I level. During games, he second-guesses every shot, even when he is wide-open.
His high expectations cause so much pressure that he overthinks and under performs on the pitch.
Managing expectations is a balancing act between challenging yourself and enjoying what you are doing.
In 2022, Morgan Turner signed her first professional soccer contract with Sport Clube União (S.C.U.) Torreense of the first division of Portuguese women’s soccer.
Before playing in Portugal, Turner had a prolific career at DePaul University, scoring 31 goals in 80 appearances.
Turner is excited by the challenge of playing at the next level and enjoying the moment.
TURNER: “I’ve always wanted to play professionally. Playing professionally has been my ultimate goal, so since I’ve been here, I’ve just been enjoying where I’m at and just enjoying the moment… It’s been a blast being here. I really love living in Portugal, and it’s been so much fun to play on a new team and start my professional career.”
When you manage expectations, you will not over-emphasize the importance of a competition. You will play freely and have fun while competing.
Peak performance is a balancing act. To compete at your peak, you need to be excited about the challenge and stretch your abilities while managing expectations to minimize pressure.
You can have fun at any competitive level. Enjoying the challenge is the key. Remember, how you view pressure or challenge can change your experience and help ignite your passion for competing.
Ask yourself, “Why did I love playing my sport when I was younger?” “Why did I choose to play my sport?” “What made competing fun?”
You want to take a new perspective into your sport and know why you participate. Worry and pressure lead to being serious. Enjoying the challenge leads to fun.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- The Mindset to Perform at a Higher Level
- Having Fun While Performing at Your Best
- The Importance of Mental Toughness
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