Trying too hard to win
The Mental Error of pressing or trying too hard to control the outcome can actually result in bringing about your downfall.
Are you guilty of this?
When athletes are facing fear the first thing they resort to is the need to take control.
They want things to happen quickly and provide instant gratification.
This creates a situation that makes them predictable and deprives them of their ability to think through situations.
The strategies and understanding of how to play in certain situations just goes completely out the window.
The focus shifts to getting the result in your favour as quickly as possible. Invariably, this approach is fueled by anxiety and this causes you to lose focus on what you can do to actually achieve the result you want.
The cool head and concise decision making required to execute your play becomes clouded.
So how do you stop yourself from pressing too hard to win?
First of all you need to identify that you are doing it.
Once you work this out you need to focus on everything that you know so that you can respond to the situation.
I’ll give you an example of what I am talking about here.
I follow an AFL team called The Kangaroos. (AFL is a unique football game played in Australia.)
The Kangaroos are a young side with a great deal of talent.
This year they will finish in ninth place on the ladder. They have been very competitive in every game they have played in. In most games they have been leading by over 30 points only to lose in 9 of those games by less than twelve points.
This is a clear case of pressing taking place. It is happening when the opposition finally manages to get them game together and exert pressure on them.
It seems like the whole team goes into melt down. Their response in most games is to press and try to score heavily to make sure they win.
Unfortunately it has not worked, because panic sets in and the opposition has been able to hurt them severely on the counter attack.
To cut a long story short I am sure that each player has been instructed on how to counter those situations, yet they all seem powerless to do it.
It will take a great deal of inner strength for each player to develop strategies to counter this situation.
The whole team needs to work out how they can slow the game down and deny the opposition the use of the ball.
It sounds pretty elementary yet when you are not focused on this aspect it becomes difficult to implement.
The Kangaroos whole approach is under scrutiny and they are in the spotlight as to how they will come through this situation
Are You Pressing?
What happens in your game? Do you try to kill off the points quickly or do you try focus on how to win the points?
One line of thinking provides you with a clear concise plan to obtain the result you want.
Here are some examples of a person pressing to get the result too early.
When you’re pressing, you are impatient and overly aggressive.
You interfere with your technique rather than letting your body lead.
If you’re a golfer, tennis, badminton, squash or baseball player, you’ll try to guide and steer the ball or over-analyze your swing mechanics, which messes up your strokes and erodes your game.
Or, you’ll try to crush it and deliver a 400 yard drive or home run instead of connecting to your swing rhythm or anticipating the type of pitch being thrown.
Often you’ll try to win a rally prematurely, rather than being patient and looking for an opening.
If you’re a curler, bowler, or billiards player, you’ll try to guide and steer the rock or ball or analyse your technique instead of connect to the feel of the shot; you might also play an over-aggressive strategy instead of a patient, smart one.
If you’re a basketball, lacrosse, soccer, football, volleyball or hockey player, you’ll try to ‘do it all yourself’ and drive to the basket or net instead of reading the defence. Or, you’ll lunge for the ball or puck before
How can you stop yourself from pressing?
This is the important question if you find yourself trying too hard and pressing is letting you down then it’s time to trust your instincts.
If you have trained well and you have done everything possible to prepare you for the contest then it’s time to trust yourself. Allow yourself the luxury of knowing that your body can execute the moves required to get the job done.
Allow things to happen and respond with a cool clear head.
Stay in the zone and be prepared to out think and outwit your opponent.
Some tips on how you can facilitate this mindset are:
- Visualize some scenarios leading up to the contest and how you will deal with each one on the day. This will help you eliminate surprises and help you achieve the moves you need to make on the day.
- Develop a positive self talk that enables you to negotiate through your desire to press.
- Develop the right focus for your sport. This is all about concentrating on the aspects of what you need to do to execute your moves well. It’s not so much about technique as this should have already been addressed prior to the competition. What does that look like for your sport. Is it about watching the ball and making the correct decision?
Are there times when you have been guilty of trying too hard, only to see yourself sabotage the result you wanted?
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