Managing moments of pressure is a part of the game that can be the most difficult. We see it all the time at every level of this sport. We see professionals miss simple passes, shots, and go into panic mode when it matters the most. You also see amazing goals where there is a high level of pressure, such as the Mbappe World Cup goal. But, how do we deal wit this?
Create a prematch ritual. Listening to music to zone out the world. Have a game of two touch with your teammates. Anything that will allow you to fight off that stress a match will bring. Start visualizing your success. Bring up some old memories of you playing well. Use those little gems as fuel for your success today. Now, the first whistle blows. Play simple when the match first starts. Complete your passes. Stick to your assignments. Encourage your teammates the way that you want and need to be spoken to in this moment. Gain your confidence and then be yourself. There are so many outside factors that can play a part. Negativity from Parents, pressure from teammates, coaches, and your opponent. When we do let pressure take control, that 10 yard pass that we have hit a million times now seems like it is 100 yards away. There is an open net from 15 yards out and hit it over. We know that it is an easy goal, but why are we missing? A ball is floated into the box and as a keeper, we let it go through our hands. We are clearly lacking confidence just because of the doubt. We know what it means if we lose this match. Relax... and put yourself where your feet are. Drown out the negativity that you are hearing from the sidelines. This moment isn't bigger than what you believe it to be. Let your training show what you have worked for. You are truly prepared for the moment that you are currently in. Knowing it is 80% of the battle. Now perform the way you know how.
Seeing talented players fall to pressure has happened many of times. It will continue to happen at every level. You may not be a constant starter, but raise to the occasion when it's your turn. This is what comes with competition in anything. For myself, I've messed up plenty of times as a player and of course as a coach. Pressure can change the way you make decisions and the way you execute those decisions. Learn from those mistakes and conquer that doubt the next time you play.
"Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an. opportunity for me to rise"
- Kobe Bryant