Aug. 15, 2022

Ep.4 Navigating Performance Pressure

If you are at a point in life where you want to improve how you handle performance pressure, then this episode is for you! Performing Under Pressure is real talk about navigating self-imposed and external pressure faced in sports. Rey shares her real-lif...

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If you are at a point in life where you want to improve how you handle performance pressure, then this episode is for you! Performing Under Pressure is real talk about navigating self-imposed and external pressure faced in sports. Rey shares her real-life experiences with game performance pressure, and how she manages and overcomes it. She also shares key facts about the mindset athletes voluntarily take on creating another hurdle to climb. Finally, Rey wraps up the episode with 3 actionable steps for you to successfully navigate performance pressure:

  1. Acknowledge and eliminate self-imposed pressure 
  2. Concentrate on what you can control, your performance
  3. Train your mind to handle high-pressure situations 


[1] BelievePerform

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Hey guys, welcome back to Growth on the Daily, the personal development podcast for athletes. My name is Rey and I'm your host. I'm a former competitive hockey player, passionate about self-growth and I'm here to support you on your journey to becoming the best version of you. Thank you guys for tuning in. If this is your first time listening to the Growth on the Daily podcast, thank you so much for finding us and welcome. And for those of you who are back for another episode, thank you so much for your continuous support. I appreciate you! To stay up to date with the show, follow us on Instagram @growthonthedaily. Now let's dive into the episode. This week's episode is titled Navigating Performance Pressure. In terms of Specialties For Success, we're continuing this week with emotional growth. So we're talking about mastering your emotions. If you're someone who's at a point in life where you want to improve how you handle performance pressure, then this episode is for you. Let's hear from the experts.

No Cap, All Facts

In my research this week, I really wanted to understand how pressure and performance pressure relates to athletes and its presence in sports. So I took a look at a blog post by sports psychology, PhD student Emma Vickers, who posted a blog on Belief Perform that answered those very questions. So first answering the question, what is pressure in sports and what does that look like? Emma puts it perfectly with this quote. When she says " athletes often begin to experience pressure when they begin imagining what may occur. If the desired outcome is not achieved, athletes are known for either choking or excelling under extreme pressurized circumstances. Often we see fear of failure tied to pressure, which can either fuel or exhaust athletes' efforts". I think she put this perfectly because what she's really trying to say is when there's performance pressure, the question is will an athlete crumble under the pressure or not. And I think we've all felt this as athletes and even in our everyday lives, whether you're at work, or just handling family pressures, whatever that situation is, if there's some sort of pressured environment, it either fuels us or crumbles us.

The next thing I wanted to understand was where does the role of fear play with pressure? Because what's the difference between those of us who allow pressure to excel us versus those who crumble under the pressure. Emma outlines four fears here that I think really hit the nail on the head. The first one she mentioned was the fear of disappointing others. So who were the others? In a sports environment, we're talking coaches, we're talking teammates, we're talking parents, fans, organizations. There's a fear of disappointment there if we don't really meet our obligations as athletes. This actually got me thinking about the idea of home field advantage, because I know it's heavily argued that it's way better to win your own barn. And I completely agree. You have the support of your city, your fans, you're in an environment that you're very comfortable with, that you practice in. And there's no greater feeling than winning at home, but there's no worse feeling than losing at home too.

So it makes you think, how does the role of pressure tie into having that home field advantage? Does that pressure decrease when you're away? So, you know, maybe @TorontoMapleLeafs, that's probably why they haven't won a cup since '67. Maybe we're all trying to find some sort of answer, but you know what we say as Leafs fans heavily, heavily devoted maybe next year. Another fear that was mentioned is the fear of feeling embarrassed. That really comes when an athlete underperforms. Social media is so present in today's society and if we have some sort of embarrassing moment, especially someone who has that presence in the world, or even online, then you're going to become a meme. That's just how it is. You can't get away from it. And there's there's a fear of that. You know, athletes not wanting to be the next meme of them failing. So of course that fear exists.

Another fear is a fear of losing their place on the team. So maybe you underperform, you don't meet your contract obligations and then, you can get fired, you can get cut and that's a big deal. You lose your entire role and that's a big part of your identity, being an athlete. And then the final fear that was mentioned is the fear of not performing to perfection or just making mistakes in general, you often see this with either perfectionists or all-star players. So those who have an expectation to constantly be at their best, day in and day out. A perfect example of that is if we bring the Leafs back into the equation, you look at the key star players on their team. You have Tavares, Matthews, Marner, you have Nylander just to name a few. If the Leafs lose a game, they're going to say it's because Matthews or Tavares or someone didn't show up that game. They always say that. And it's always put on someone else's back, even though they're part of a team of a number of people, it's put on the leaders' and the stars' backs. So of course there's a performance pressure that's developed with that fear. So now understanding that there's pressure in sports, athletes feel this, and that they develop fears if they are not excelled by pressure, then that brings into the question, where is this pressure coming? Is it self-induced, is it a combination of external factors that are also influencing and magnifying this pressure? Where does it come from?

In this blog post that Emma Vickers wrote, she did include a great quote from a source published in 1996, that really outlines the pressure that athletes feel and that they actually put on themselves. It states that "typically an athlete will hold the belief that their job is to win, attain titles, and to secure sponsorship or prize money. When in reality, that is not the case. The job is to deliver the process and by aiming for a particular result or outcome, we're setting ourselves tasks that are often out of our own control". I completely agree with that. We're telling ourselves, we have to be the reason that the organization is number one next year. That the team wins a cup and it's our sole responsibility. And that's all self-induced it's put on us. No, one's telling me it is your responsibility Tavares to make sure the Leafs win the cup next year. No, it's collective. And so getting athletes to understand that a lot of the pressure is self-induced is a big part of tackling performance pressure. So on that note, I want to share with you guys a few more tidbits of how I've handled and continue to handle performance pressure in my everyday life as an athlete and also in my career. So let's hear my take.

Rey's Remedy

The first thing I would recommend is you have to understand your role and your job. It is your job to perform your job to the best of your ability, not to perform someone else's job, not to worry about other people's jobs to perform yours. And to do that, you have to understand what your responsibilities are. What's your job description? What are the expectations for you in your field.

The second thing I would say is focus on you instead of everyone else. And that's so much easier said than done, but it's honestly so crucial. If you are worried about your teammate, you are going to be the one that slips up because you haven't put in the effort, and the time to perfect to the best of your ability, your craft, because you're busy worrying about them. And so think of this as a system, right? When you're in a team, whether this is in a work environment and athletic environment, it doesn't matter. The same logic can be applied. And what you have to understand here is that for the system to work, each part has to work. Everyone has a role. And if you are worried about somebody else, your part isn't going to work to the best of its ability. And that's going to break down the system. So you have to do your best to focus on you. And I just want to be clear that I'm not saying don't support your teammates. Of course support them, but you have to be able to take care of yourself first. Think of this when you're on an airplane, right? What do they say at the beginning of every flight when they're doing their safety demonstrations and the flight attendants say when the oxygen masks come down, help yourself first, before you help anyone else in need. Because if you don't put your own oxygen mask on, you're going to die and you won't be able to help the next person. And guess what, both of you are going to die. So this system breaks down. So you have to have yourself in check before you check other people. You know, check yourself, guys.

The third thing I would say is practice under pressure. The best thing you can do is mimic the environment that you're actually going to be performing under because then when you're actually there, it's so much easier, the weight is off your shoulders, and you see this a lot. In a corporate environment, this may look like when you're going for a new job, and you do mock interviews to prepare for the actual interview. And then the actual interview it doesn't really seem like that big of a deal. And you'll see this in a sporting environment too. I remember when I was playing hockey competitively, that anytime we would have a new face off play or new special teams play, we would always scrimmage at the end of practice. And the purpose of that was to then apply that new system so that we could see how that actually works out in a real game environment. So practicing under pressure by mimicking your performance environment is a strong recommendation on my end.

The last thing I would say is you don't have to navigate performance pressure on your own. Lean on your support system. You have teammates, parents, friends, coaches, fans, social media, everyone's here to support you. You have your haters of course, but the haters are just jealous. So really they're just supporters that are hiding behind some words. So there's tons of people for you guys to lean on. And all you have to do is let them know that you need their support and how they can best support you. So to do that first, you have to understand your needs and then you have to communicate them. You have to say, Hey mom and dad, coach, teammate, brother and sister, can you help me with XYZ? Or I need insight on X, Y, Z, so that I can make sure I'm a check and I can do my job better. I can perform better. I feel more comfortable in my environment, whatever the reason is. People want to see you succeed and help you succeed, but they don't know that or they don't know how, if you don't tell them because they can't read your mind. Those are a couple of recommendations I have for you as to how you would navigate performance pressure and less than that on yourself. But that's enough talking for me. So it's time for a quick shoutout.

Hold the Mic

All right, guys, we want to hear from you. So I'm calling all athletes, coaches, sports industry reps, and anyone interested in sharing their journey through personal development. As a former athlete, as someone who's just into sports DM @growthonthedaily on Instagram to be featured on the podcast in a future episode. All right, guys, let's wrap this up. Meaningful Mentions For this week's meaningful mentions. I have three key takeaways for you. The first is acknowledge and eliminate self-imposed pressure. So understand what your job is. Keep yourself in check, stay in your lane. Second is concentrate on what you can control, which is your performance. Perfect your craft to the best of your ability. So practice until you're comfortable until you can do as much as you can do in an environment that you can control. The third is train your mind to handle high pressure situations. How do you do that? You practice under pressure and how do you practice under pressure? Well, you mimic that performance environment and you lean on your support system to help you so that it's a lighter issue by the time you're performing in your real environment.

Quality Quote

For this week's motivational quote, I bring to you a quote from Tiger Woods himself stating that "under pressure you can win with your mind". I think that's the perfect quote for the week. I want you to think about how you can master your emotions so that you can then put your mind at rest and leave it up to your actions to perform when it counts to the most.


All right guys, that's all we have for this week's episode. Thank you guys so much for tuning in to Growth on the Daily. I applaud you for your commitment to Learn, Grow, and Thrive. Let's grow this community. Send this episode to a friend, a family member, teammate, or coach anyone looking to improve themselves. And of course, check out our website, for more info. And if you've got some time, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on our website. Thanks guys and see you next week!