Day 21: Pressure Management

Helping Athletes, Coaches, and Teams Perform!

Competing in sports at a high level comes with its fair share of pressure. Whether you're a professional athlete or a student participating in school sports, managing pressure is essential for optimal performance. In this article, we will discuss strategies you can use to effectively manage pressure and perform your best when it matters most.

Understanding Pressure

It's important to understand what pressure is and how it affects you. Pressure is the feeling of expectation or the sense of importance attached to a performance or competition. It can come from external factors such as coaches, teammates, and the audience, as well as internal factors like self-imposed expectations and fear of failure. Either way the key to understanding pressure is that it is something you value and you put on yourself. It differs slightly from stress in that stress is often caused by an external factor.

Pressure can be above you and be negative pushing you down, or behind you and performance enhancing

Menard, 2021

Embrace Pressure as a Privilege

Instead of viewing pressure as a burden, shift your perspective to see it as a privilege. Pressure signifies that you've reached a level of competition where your performance truly matters, and that you care. Embracing pressure can transform it from a source of anxiety to a source of motivation. Pressure is what pushes diamonds to shine – and it can do the same for your performance.

Strategies for Pressure Management

  1. Goal Setting: Setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial for managing pressure. Break down long-term goals into smaller, attainable milestones. This will help shift the focus from the pressure of the overall outcome to the process and progress made along the way.

  2. Positive Self-Talk: The way you talk to yourself has a significant impact on your performance under pressure. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your abilities, strengths, and past successes. This will help boost confidence and counteract the negative effects of pressure.

  3. Visualization: Mental imagery is a powerful tool for managing pressure. Before competitions or important performances, visualize yourself executing your skills perfectly and achieving your goals. This technique helps reduce anxiety and enhances confidence by creating a mental blueprint for success.

  4. Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques: Practicing mindfulness and deep breathing exercises can help you stay present and focused during high-pressure situations. Deep breathing activates the body's relaxation response and helps regulate heart rate and stress levels. Incorporate these techniques into your pre-performance routine for optimal pressure management.

  5. Support System: Surrounding yourself with a positive and supportive network of coaches, teammates, and friends can alleviate the burden of pressure. Seek support from individuals who understand your journey and can offer guidance and encouragement during challenging times.

  6. Develop a Routine: Establishing a pre-performance routine can help create a sense of control and familiarity, reducing anxiety associated with pressure. Include activities that relax and prepare you both physically and mentally, such as stretching, listening to music, or engaging in visualization exercises.

Stay in the Present

Pressure often arises from dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future outcomes. The key to managing pressure lies in staying present. Focus on the task at hand rather than the potential consequences. Have a next play mentality or mindset. Techniques like mindfulness meditation or having a reset routine can help you centre your thoughts and keep your attention on the immediate actions you need to take.


Pressure is an inevitable part of an athlete's journey, but with the right strategies, it can be effectively managed to enhance performance. By setting goals, using positive self-talk, visualization, practicing mindfulness, cultivating a support system, and developing a routine, you can thrive under pressure and achieve your goals. Remember, pressure is not a hindrance but an opportunity to showcase your skills and true potential. So, go out there, embrace the pressure, and let your performance shine!

Key Take Aways

  1. Pressure can come from internal and external factors: You should not only recognize pressures from coaches, teammates, and the audience, but also internal pressures you put on yourself, such as self-imposed expectations and fear of failure.

  2. Effective pressure management involves a combination of strategies: Setting realistic goals, using positive self-talk, visualization, practicing mindfulness and breathing techniques, cultivating a support system, developing a routine, and embracing challenges are all effective strategies that athletes can use to manage pressure.

  3. Pressure can be an opportunity for growth and personal development: Rather than viewing pressure as a hindrance, you cab reframe it as an opportunity to perform at your best and reach new levels of achievement. With the right mindset and strategies, pressure can be harnessed to showcase one's skills and potential.

Self-Reflective Moment

How do I handle pressure in high-stakes situations, and what strategies have been effective for me in the past?