'); Pressure is a Privilege

Pressure is a Privilege

Posted 23 May 2016 in Hitting Tips

Billie Jean King once said, “Pressure is a privilege.” It takes a special person to recognize that pressure is not something to be avoided, but rather, something to be embraced. If you’re an athlete, you’re going to be facing pressure situations on daily basis. So wouldn’t it be nice to learn how to embrace pressure?

There are numerous mental strategies that can be used to improve an athlete’s response to pressure. One of them is to actually “practice pressure,” which means coaches replicate pressure situations in practice to help their players deal with pressure during competition. That might sound intense, but it doesn’t have to be—you don’t need a bullhorn and a CD that plays crowd noise.

A perfect example of an artificial pressure situation is the two minute drill in football. It mirrors a real game scenario and it also introduces a time limit and it forces competition between teammates. Time limits and inter-team competition are a great way to introduce pressure into practices.

The two minute drill concept can be applied to any sport. For example, if you’re a baseball coach you can pit a hitter and a pitcher against each other and see how many hits the batter can get within a specific timeframe. If you’re a basketball coach you can set up a 5 on 5 competition where one team inbounds the ball and has 10 seconds to shoot a basket. The two teams would each get 5 possessions and whichever side has more points at the end wins.

A lot coaches don’t bother practicing pressure because they don’t think it is helpful. After all, athletes always feel more pressure during a game than they do in practice.

While it’s true practice is never exactly like a game, not practicing pressure is like not practicing free throws or blocking assignments. Pressure is as much of a part of sports as athleticism and technique. If you’re not practicing it, you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage.

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