How to Overcome Intimidation in Sports

Intimidation into Motivation

Using Intimidation to Your Advantage

“The intimidation factor” is commonplace in competition. Some athletes will seek to get a mental edge by taking you out of your game.

Intimidation takes many forms such as:

–Trash talking before a game
–A brush-back pitch to shake up a hitter
–An extra shove after a whistle was blown
–Stare-downs or crazy antics

No matter what intimidation is used, the goal is the same… To try to get in your head and take your focus away from the game.

When you give into intimidation, you become agitated, angry and anxious which eats away at your confidence.

If you focus on the antics of a rival then you are not attending to what you need to do to perform at your peak.

Intimidation challenges an athlete’s level of mental toughness.

One thing to remember… If you can learn the power of focus, you can turn a fellow competitor’s attempt at intimidation to work in your favor.

Intimidation exists in every sport and was visibly on display in the ready room prior to the semi-final heat of the 200 butterfly in Rio.

Defending Olympic champion, Chad le Clos, tried his best to intimidate and gain a psychological advantage over his rival, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Le Clos shadowboxed in front of Phelps as the two were mentally preparing for their semi-final showdown.

PHELPS: “I just had music going on in my head. I had thoughts going on in my head, spitting water a little bit all over the place, so I was in my own zone.”

Phelps was stoic as he stared forward and listened to his headphones. At one point, Phelps couldn’t help but notice le Clos’ antics, but Phelps used the intimidation as motivation.

Phelps used the intimidation attempt to fuel his performance rather than allowing his emotions to run wild.

PHELPS: “There was so much emotion and so much build up for that race. I don’t want to say it’s revenge, but that’s what it was. There wasn’t a shot in hell I was losing that race and if I did I was leaving everything in the pool.”

Not only did Phelps win the semi-final, beating le Clos by over a second. He went on to take the gold medal winning the final by 4-hundredths of a second.

Intimidation exists because it works for some, but as Michael Phelps proved, it doesn’t have to work on you.

How can you turn intimidation into motivation?

First, you should realize that your opponent sees you as a threat or there would be no need for them to seek an edge through intimidation.

Second, you need to pay attention to getting ready to compete at your highest level. What is your game strategy? What should you focus on in that moment? Go through your pre-competition routine.

Lastly, if your opponent sees that their antics are not working, soon those antics will lessen or stop.

Tips for turning intimidation into motivation:

Focus your eyes away from the distraction. Pick a neutral point in the athletic environment or, if you can, close your eyes and listen to music or review your game strategy.

Next, remind yourself that you have the edge because your opponent definitely views you as a threat. Let your opponent burn out their energy while you maintain a sense of calmness.

Learn all of my secrets for boosting concentration here!

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The Fearless Athlete

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The Fearless Athlete program is ideal for any athlete that wants to overcome fear of failure and uncover inhibiting perfectionistic traits; or for any coach or parent who wants to teach athletes to perform with trust and freedom in competition.

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