Choking at Championships

Championship season. The pressure is on and tensions are running high. Stress has an interesting effect that can threaten performance. The official term for implosion under pressure is “choking”.

I watched American Idol last night as Hollywood week took place and wanna-be rock stars faced their first intense audition. To some degree it was the play-offs and they faced elimination if they didn’t rise up to the challenge. As practices went on and the show-down ticked closer, the show captured the drama of those who began “losing it”. Certain contestants brought in years of talent, years of practice, years of dreams to shine at this moment. But talent and hard work weren’t enough to keep them from falling to pieces in an emotional puddle. Some shut down and couldn’t think, others cried or became short and argumentative with everyone around them. In a few cases, they snapped and walked out. In every case, it affected their performances and stole life-long dreams of accomplishing something great. So, there’s more than talent and more than hard physical work needed when the intensity is high. There’s a need to harness the mind and make it work for you instead of against you.

Actions=Expectations + Belief
Actions are determined by what you expect and expectations flow from what you believe to be true. If you don’t believe in what can happen and expect to fail, you most certainly will. If you trust and have confidence in yourself, you most certainly can achieve your goals.

1. Believe in your potential
Believe in what you are capable of achieving.
Believe that you can push the limit of what you’ve done. Believe you can be more skilled, stronger, faster, better than you were the day before.
See yourself and believe you can be your best when it matters.

2. Believe in the preparation.
Trust your training and be certain in your readiness.
Be confident in the hours, weeks, months and years of practice you’ve invested. Know you’ve sweat more than anyone else.
Trust your coach and all those who give you direction. Don’t pull back but do what they tell you to do. Just remember, they know what they’re doing and now’s not the time to question what they’re telling you they want from you.
Don’t retreat to what’s comfortable and safe. Let go and unleash. Let your actions show that you expect to achieve your goals because you believe you have done what it takes to make it happen.

3. Believe in the ability to accomplish the goal.
Set goals that reflect what you can control. You can focus, keep technique tight, exert every ounce of strength, be strategic. You cannot control the outcome. Set mastery goals and not outcome based goals. Be certain that focusing on the details gives you the best chance at getting the desired outcome.
Believe you can perform better than past performances and push past prior limitations.
Expect to succeed.