Like a race car is designed to drive, your mind is designed to think.
When coaches and others give you well-intentioned advice to stop overthinking, they don’t realize how futile this directive is because how do you simply “stop”?
Can’t I Just Get My Zen On?
I guess you could go to the Himalayas and meditate with some Buddhist monks for a few years and you’d learn how to do it.
Don’t get me wrong – meditation is a great thing, but it can still be very difficult to slow or stop overthinking.
The good news is it’s not even necessary to do that.
Why Does It Even Happen?
To perform well when you’re under pressure in sports, the mind likes to think even faster, and it’s just activating an old survival mechanism, a mental program to consider all the things that could go wrong so that maybe you can prevent them.
It’s just part of the fear response.
Unfortunately, this is not usually useful in sports and it ends up causing nervousness, tension and that interferes with your abilities.
A Better Way?
A very powerful solution to counter this is to keep yourself in the present moment with your thinking.
Now, you hear all sorts of mental coaches and sports psychologists and busy athletes to stay present or play in the present moment. And yeah, it’s good advice.
The truth is, most athletes don’t have a clue why this is useful and they have even less of a clue as to how to do it.
It goes right over their head when they hear it. Because they don’t see any benefit, they don’t practice it and the advice is pretty much useless.
Why it Works
This is why performing in the present moment helps you come through brilliantly under pressure.
So the reason why this becomes such a powerful tool for performing under pressure is because pressure feelings come from a perception of fear.
“Pressure” is mostly fear of failure, making a mistake, choking, not coming through. It’s fear. That’s the real problem. We just sometimes call that pressure.
Fear can not exist in the present moment.
Think about it. Whenever you are experiencing fear, you are either remembering something bad that happened in the past or worrying about something bad that might happen in your future, even if the future is only a few minutes or a few seconds away.
When you truly get present, fear goes away because it cannot exist in the present.
Now, yes, there are some sports that have an element of physical danger inherent and performing like boxing, gymnastics, wrestling, and some other dangerous sports.
That said, even in those sports, it’s only a tiny slice of the fear when under pressure to perform other ways of dealing with physical fear as well next, how do you practice playing the present moment to eliminate that fear?
Use your eyes to look around the room you’re in and focus on all the things you see. Notice details, patterns, colors, textures, focus your mind on what you see.
Now, go ahead and close your eyes and put your mind on all the things you hear.
Switch your mind over to what you feel in your body this very moment. What are your hands feeling? Your feet? What about your head? What about the clothes on your body? How is your body temperature?
Direct your mind to what your sense of smell is doing now. Even if there isn’t much going on there, put your mind there anyway.
Now switch your mind over to thinking about what your taste buds are doing. Probably not much, kind of neutral. That’s okay. Just put your mind there.
Go back and forth between all five senses all at once. One at a time you are now in the present moment. Connect your thinking to what your senses are taking in right now.
Get back in the Driver’s Seat
Fear and pressure cannot exist in that present moment. Don’t wait until the next time you have pressure to use this tip, practice it everywhere in your life.
Want more tips like this? Try our confidence program and get your head back in the game where it belongs.
You won’t believe what you can achieve. We’ll show you how!
Let’s do this,
Mental Toughness Trainer