Performance Under Pressure

Success in any activity requires a very conscious and disciplined effort to overcome negative distractions to position our minds in a mental state to succeed. How do we achieve superior performance on a regular basis? let’s look at the science”

The penalty kick, in futbol (soccer) is the perfect laboratory to study how we respond to anxiety and pressure. All players kick with the exact same physical environment –

Ball is placed 11 meters away from goal 36 feet

Goal scoring area is 24 ft long X 8 feet high = 192 sqaure feet

Penalty kicks, in theory, represent a relatively simple task for a professional player: score against only the goalkeeper from 11 meters, and do it at your own pace.

Kick takers in a shootout score at a rate of 92 percent when the score is tied and a goal ensures their side an immediate win. But when the pressure situation is reversed and the kicker needs to score to avoid defeat, the success rate drops to 60 percent. As pressure increases, the shootout has become a confounding stumbling block, one that regularly diverts national sports heroes into goats as they “choke” under pressure.

The difference maker in success vs. failure is the psychological mindset of the kicker *

This is an alarming dropoff of success given that the physical environment is exactly the same for every kick. The difference is how the kicker is able to process external stimulus, quiet distractions and focus on the “goal” at hand.

How do you succeed.

1. Focus — the ability to zero in on a specific task amid vast amounts of amplified sensory stimulation — those who silence distractions – Crowd. Pressure, anxiety, et cetera have superior outcomes. Do not focus on the competition. Your target is the open goal not the goalkeeper. Define your ultimate goal, eliminate distractions and execute. Research* has found that shooters who were reminded to kick away from the goalkeeper, rather than to shoot accurately into open space ultimately scored fewer goals. The gist of this research is simple: If you are kicking the ball — train your eye on where you want it to go not what is in the way.

2. Confidence – Advance visual preparation. practice in your mind step by step – the exact game simulation of success before the kick. envision the pressure, the competitive scenario, the placement of the ball, your stance, the strike, the follow thru and the ball ripping the back of the net. And then envision your celebration. Positive reinforcement – if your mind is in a positive state. Your body will follow.

This extreme discipline to ensure flawless execution and superior results holds true in penalty kicks, free throws, important conversations, tests and virtually every challenge and/or opportunity in your life. You can discipline your mind in advance toward a 92% probability for success rather than be distracted into a lowly 60% probability simply by filtering out distractions and intentionally visualizing success.

Control your perceptions and you control your destiny.

On a side note:

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” In fact the discipline of success is fairly difficult to achieve because so many of us are routinely distracted by negativity. As my friend Peter Diamandis states: our mind is 10 times more prone to negative stimuli than we are toward the positive. **Be careful what you watch, what you read and who you converse with in your free time. Our media preys on our fears and has tricked us into believing that we live in a world of scarcity rather than abundance. Be disciplined to focus on a successful future.

  • “This to me is the key finding of all our studies,” said Geir Jordet, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo who has analyzed shootouts with fervor. Jordet and colleagues have suggested that penalty takers’ perception under pressure may explain why some ‘choke’ and some players execute with militaristic precision.