In sport there are varying levels of pressure from different sources during competition. Expectations, combined with significance and ability to deliver, determine how pressure is perceived.
Pressure is also self-imposed. Important events/situations tend to heighten pressure and while this may lead to some athletes choking during performance, others tend to thrive under increased pressure and rise to the occasion. When athletes are closely matched the outcome is often decided by their ability to cope with pressure.
One method of dealing with pressure is to view it as an opportunity or challenge rather than a threat. By adopting this approach you will rise to an occasion rather than take flight. Preparation and practice should boost confidence in the run-up to an event - but when the time comes to deliver, trust becomes key. Trusting yourself to mirror the process in practice is significant.
For example, Gareth Southgate’s England created history when beating Columbia in a penalty shootout in the Football World Cup this summer. It was the first time England had triumphed in these circumstances, having previously lost on penalties in 1990, 1998 and 2006.
Penalty practice had become part of their training regime. Under pressure they stuck to the process, kept their egos at bay and placed the ball accurately in a pre-determined spot.
An indecisive penalty-taker pays the penalty.
Turn pressure into a challenge, believe in your preparation, trust in the process and then shoot with confidence!