Do You Clutch or Choke as an Athlete?
Why do some athletes deliver in competition while other athletes choke under pressure?
Do you see yourself as a clutch athlete or an athlete that chokes under pressure?
Choking is something that many athletes struggle with. Choking can prevent you from excelling in competitions and reaching your athletic potential.
Many athletes have mentioned questions, comments, and concerns about choking under pressure.
Golf – “I get so nervous in big tournaments that I miss easy putts.”
Tennis – “How can I close out a match, especially when my opponents are catching up in the final set?”
Baseball – “When my team is making a rally late in a game, I crack under the pressure and strike out too often.”
Soccer – “I always seem to miss scoring on penalty kicks when the game is on the line.”
No matter the sport you play, whether you are clutch or choke boils down to your mindset.
The Characteristics of a Choke Mindset
Athletes with a Choke Mindset…
- These athletes feel anxious when under pressure during crunch time.
- Worry about failing and letting down their teammates, especially late in the competition.
- Focus on negative outcomes. These athletes have low confidence and see themselves faltering with the game on the line.
- Hold back or play not to lose. These athletes play cautiously and conservatively, instead of playing to win.
The Characteristics of a Clutch Mindset
Athletes with a Clutch Mindset…
- Channel pressure or nervous energy to improve performance (e.g., the tennis player who hits the ball with a little more pace in a tiebreak).
- Want to be the star athlete who wins the game through their motivation to succeed (e.g., the basketball player who wants to take the last shot in the final seconds of a game).
- Immerse themselves in the moment and have laser focus when the game is on the line (e.g., the golfer who blocks out all distractions and is solely focused on sinking a ten-foot putt to win a tournament).
- Go for it and don’t hold back (the soccer player who aggressively pushes the ball downfield looking for opportunities to set up his teammates to score).
- Have high confidence and know they can perform in crunch time (e.g., the baseball relief pitcher who trusts his ability to get hitters out when runners are in scoring position).
When you believe you don’t have the “clutch mindset,” you will get trapped in the choke mindset and feel overwhelmed when the game is on the line.
Your mindset is trained, meaning you can re-train your mindset to perform better under pressure.
Training your mindset is a philosophy of Former Miami Heat coach David Fizdale. Fizdale views practices as opportunities to train yourself to be clutch.
FIZDALE: “[When you push in practice], the message is, you are preparing yourself for a war. Practices should be a war. Practices should be harder than the games.”
By practicing in clutch situations, you can train your mind to perform better in pressure situations.
How to Foster a Clutch Mindset:
Make sure your practices reflect the way you want to play in the competition. If you want to grind it out until the end of a competition, keep battling in practice.
Set up big moment scenarios in practice. Play crow noise. Bring in live fans into your scrimmages. Imagine how you want to perform with two minutes left in the competition or the last heat, moto, or routine.
Discover How to Overcome Distractions During Competition!
If you’re an athlete who is frequently distracted, loses focus in conception, or wants to learn more about how to focus better under pressure, check out:
The Focused Athlete is a step-by-step plan to boost concentration and overcome distractions in sports. It is a complete system to teach you how to focus like a champion and harness the power of a zone focus every time you step into practice, a game or competition.
The Focused Athlete program comes with 2 audio CDs that include 14 days of focus boosting exercises and a simple to follow workbook that guides you through each of the 14 days, helps you apply the strategies, and customizes the exercises to your personal focus challenges.