3 Tips Elite Athletes Use To Perform Under Pressure

At this time of the year in the last month of Q3, the pressure starts to be felt for business leaders. Their language can turn too should’s, must’s, have to’s when communicating to their staff, cascading the negative pressure through the organisation. This can sound like “Financial targets need to be hit or…”, “If we don’t hit our goals…”, “We should be doing more…”, fill in the dotted lines.

In elite sport, pressure is part of daily life. We can learn a lot from elite athletes on how to perform and deal with the present demands when needed. Pressure is a mindset. It starts with our thinking and self-talk and then moves into our feelings, influencing our communication, behavior and then our results.

So what do world-class athletes do to perform to their best consistently?

Tips That You Can Use To Perform To Your Best

1. Eliminate stinking thinking.

Negative pressure starts with negative thinking and seeing the problems. This tightens us up causing us to freeze, choke or make the wrong decisions. Positive pressure starts with positive thinking and seeing the opportunity at hand. This frees us up to express ourselves in the moment and perform to our best. Ask yourself “what is the opportunity right now?” Write it down and every time you start to think or feel negative come back to your list.

2. Visualise daily. 

One tool that athletes use consistently to achieve their goals is visualisation. It helps to calm nerves, programs the unconscious mind for success and keeps the athlete focused on what they want. 2019 US Open women’s champion, Bianca Andreescu is a great example of this. Each day she would visualise tough situations on court and herself dealing with them. Even imagining herself playing Serena Williams in the final and beating her! (It came true).

3. Be here now.

The Zone is that place where athletes go when everything happens easily and effortlessly and peak performance is achieved. This transcends thinking, the experience is of a still mind in the midst of dynamic action. Everything flows. This is where every athlete wants to be in every moment, right here in the now. Bianca and many top athletes practice meditation daily to learn how to be present. Here is an infographic that teaches you how to meditate for top performance. 

Just like a 100-meter sprinter the race can be won or lost in the last 50 meters or 2 quarters of the race. The athletes that stay present, focused and relaxed tend to run the fastest, finishing strong. As Leaders, we are role models for the organisation. Our communication has a great effect both positive and negative and so we need to ask ourselves, “How can I support my leaders and teams to stay positive, focused and performing to their best?”. “What kind of example am I to my people and how can I be a better one right now?”.

As you sincerely reflect on these questions in the days and weeks to come, here is a great reminder: You are what you focus on. If you focus on what you don’t want, you become that. If you focus on what you want, you become that too. What do you want and who do you want to become?

Action: Which one of these tips above will you take action on and put into practice today?