Overcome Performance Anxiety With This Practice

Perfomance Anxiety in Sports

How to Want The Ball in The Final Moments of The Game

Some athletes want the ball in their hand in the closing seconds of a game while other athletes pray they don’t get the ball as time ticks down.

Which athlete do you or your athletes fall into?

Some athletes are overwhelmed by performance anxiety in sports and have great difficulty closing out games or taking the last shot…

Your mind becomes cluttered with ‘what ifs’…

“What if I miss? What if I lose the game for my team? What if the team becomes angry with me for missing the last shot?”

You become so anxious and tight, which leads to poor decision making and a lack of freedom.

Instead of trying to get open, you blend in the background. You basically opt out of the game hoping another player takes the last shot to decide the game.

You may feel that there is nothing you can do about confidence to closing out games or how to approach game-ending pressure situations.

That is where sport psychology comes into play…

You can improve your mental game about closing out games by applying proven mental strategies.

You CAN definitely be the player to sink the game-ending winning shot or score the final goal with some practice just like Kris Jenkins of the Villanova Wildcats.

Jenkins hit a three-pointer buzzer-beater to give the Wildcats a 77-74 victory over North Carolina for the NCAA tournament championship.

JENKINS: “You know, we put a lot of work in. This team, everybody has the confidence to catch and shoot. So when Arch (Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono) threw me the ball, one, two step, shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets. I think every shot is going in, so that one was no different.”

How do you get the confidence of Jenkins to perform well in the closing moments of a game?

Practice specificity is a concept I teach to my athletes that helps them rehearse specific game situations in practice!

For example, Villanova practices last-second shots every day…

When you practice under game-like situations, you build confidence in those situation. So when you are in competition, you are doing what you have practiced often.

This type of practice doesn’t eliminate anxiety, nor does it guarantee that you will make every game-ending play, goal or shot.

Specificity practice increases confidence which helps you perform in anticipated situations.

Villanova head basketball coach Jay Wright knows the value of being mentally prepared in critical situations. He credits mental preparedness for his team’s ability to produce in the clutch.

COACH WRIGHT: “We do practice that. We have certain plays with less than four seconds, from four to seven seconds. Every coach has this. Zero to four, four to seven, seven to 12. We have plays. So we know what it is. We practice it every day. I didn’t have to say anything in the huddle. We have a name for it, that’s what we’re going to do. Just put everybody in their spots.”

If you anticipate and prepare mentally for different game scenarios, you will have a feeling of “deja vu” instead of being overwhelmed by the unexpected.

Good mental preparation is all about being prepared to cope with any situation you will face in sports.

Top strategy for developing a crunch-time mentality:

Write out a script for how you like to close out a tight game including: having the confidence to want the ball and the excitement of taking the last shot. Rehearse how you want to perform as time runs out and the excitement and celebration on the floor afterwards.

Take this script and act it out in practice. Make it a part of your everyday routine. You will soon see your confidence and focus improve, as well as your mental approach to taking the “BIG” shot.

Related Sports Psychology Articles

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!

Learn more about our one-on-one mental game coaching.

The Confident Athlete

The Confident Athlete Audio

“The Confident Athlete” consists of 2 audio programs that include 14 days of confidence fueling exercises and a simple to follow workbook that guides you through the 14 days, helps you apply the strategies, and customizes the exercises to your personal needs.

Let me help you put a stop to the confidence leak. You can learn to have greater levels of confidence in competition than you do in practice by identifying the specific ways you undermine your own confidence and how to convert your practice confidence into COMPETITIVE CONFIDENCE.

“The Confident Athlete” is a ground-breaking system to teach you how to think like a champion and have ultimate self-confidence every time you step on the playing field, court, track, or course. The confident athletes was developed for any athlete – junior to professional –that wants to gain confidence. However, coaches and sports parents can learn how to teach others to perform with ultimate confidence. Use my program if you want to bust a slump or just wanting higher or more consistent levels of self-confidence.

Leave a Comment