You probably feel pressure in most practices and every competition. You may even assume that pressure is just part of playing sports. We have news for you: Pressure is a figment of your imagination. Yep, you read that right — pressure exists only in your mind.
Think about it: Situations are not pressure-filled in and of themselves. How you view those situations are what does or doesn’t result in a feeling of pressure. And whether you feel pressure is directly related to what you focus on. For example, say it’s the bottom of the ninth inning and you have the chance to hit a game-tying RBI. You may or may not feel pressure in this situation, depending on what you’re thinking about.
If you’re focusing on possible outcomes — such as “What if I strike out?” — you’ll probably feel pressure, have tightened muscles, and decrease your chances of getting that RBI, because tight muscles can’t swing a bat as freely as loose muscles can. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about the process of putting the ball in play — “Relax and hit it solid” — you won’t feel pressure, your muscles will be looser, and you’ll have a better chance of success. This is why some athletes excel in situations that others feel are “packed with pressure” — the ones who feel all kinds of pressure aren’t viewing the situation in the same way as the ones who don’t.