How To Deal With Pressure In Baseball
Why do some players feel more pressure to perform than others? Where does this pressure come from?
First, let’s agree that some degree of pressure is good in big games.
Pressure can give you that edginess and adrenaline pump needed to meet the challenges within a game.
Many players hear the term “pressure” and freak out.
Athletes who tend to react negatively to critical situations have not learned how to harness that sense of pressure.
Great clutch athletes have the ability to cope with any pressure they feel.
These clutch players can calm themselves down when they feel themselves getting too amped up and can get psyched up when they feel flat.
New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira understands the role and effects of pressure having played in nine MLB playoff series.
Teixeira provided commentary on the playoff success of the three New York Mets talented young pitchers: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom who have combined for 7-2 in the 2015 playoffs.
Teixeira believes the key to success is not burdening yourself with increased pressure.
“Young pitchers in the playoffs tend to do pretty well… [they] don’t know that this [the playoffs] is a huge deal. Veterans that have been around that may have lost some tough games, maybe haven’t gotten that World Series ring, they feel the pressure a little bit more. Young guys, they are out there firing it. You see these guys with no hesitation, no fear, they are out there having fun just chucking the ball.”
Dragging past failed attempts into the present increase pressure and rarely result in peak performance.
“The game was definitely easier for me as a kid. I didn’t have all the baggage. I have a lot of baggage for 13 years in the big leagues. Stuff adds up, times you didn’t come through or “Uh-oh, I’ve seen this before. You start thinking about those things when you are a veteran. Golfers are the same way; ‘I have a chance at the U.S. Open, I know this is the putt I need’ whereas when you are young, you go through and you play your game and you do what you’ve been doing your entire life.”
Teixeira’s comments can help you understand how pressure develops and how to manage it…
- Pressure is something we place on ourselves. If you create the pressure, you can learn to handle the pressure.
- Playoff games are still just the same game you have always played. Important games are only a big deal if you make them a big deal.
- The past is the past and can only affect your performance if you dwell on the past constantly.
Accept pressure for what it is… a needed tool to perform well. But if you think that you will fold under the pressure, the weight of that pressure will drag your performance down.
Strategy For Dealing With Pressure in Sports
Stop judging yourself based on outcomes only. When you define yourself by wins and losses, there will be a tremendous amount of pressure to perform.
Instead, define yourself by your confidence, commitment, and fighting spirit.
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