I’m a huge fan of Dr. Patrick Cohn and subscribe to his twitter feed (@Peaksports) for great insight on the mental side of athletic participation. He has put together a great piece on performance anxiety for athletes.
One of the biggest obstacles for players is pressure – how to want it and how to deal with it. I’d suggest reading this post from Dr. Cohn so you can get a better understanding of how to actually practice and simulate these types of situations.
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.
Specificity practice increases confidence which helps you perform in anticipated situations.
As Cohn says, 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:
“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.”
Dr. Cohn is right on in stating that 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.
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