By Nathalie Garcia, Bewolfish psychologist specialized in sports psychology and coaching with experience in high-performance sports psychology, former athlete.
Being a footballer and playing in a final means being under an enormous pressure. But, what is the pressure? And, moreover, why does it appear? And, even more important, what can we do to control it?
In the media and sports debates, the pressure is usually considered an abstract and uncontrollable concept. But the reality is that we can control it. To do so, we must first understand what it is and where it comes from in order to be able to do something to manage it.
“The magnitude of the pressure
that depends, among other things,
on the number of spectators
generated by the event“
Before explaining exactly what
On the other hand, we have the magnitude of the pressure that depends, among other things, on the number of spectators generated by the event. The larger the audience, the greater the pressure generated. The last Soccer World Cup in Brazil, for example, obtained an audience of more than three thousand two hundred million viewers.
In addition, each athlete tends to certain psychological characteristics that generate more or less pressure. For example, the locus of control which is the perception of control we have over the things that happen to us. An athlete with an internal control locus will feel less external pressure than one with an external control locus.
“The players who focus on achieving
success cope better with the pressure
because they do not give any
importance to the defeat“
Another characteristic is whether the athlete is a person who focuses on achieving success or on avoiding
Depending on whether it is the process or the result, you will feel more or less pressure. If what really motivates you is the path that leads you to the goal, you will face a final with less pressure and you will be able to enjoy it more.
As we already know what pressure is, we must
If we spend too much energy or we fall short, our performance will be diminished. For instance, a
Another affected factor is the concentration since this capacity is limited. If we have our mind in the things that will happen depending on the result, we will be dedicating a part of the concentration to elements that do not help us achieve the optimal performance. Therefore, it will distance us from the result.
“If we want to change our interpretation
of the final, we will have to focus on changing
the thoughts that generate that pressure“
If the possible negative consequences become more important than the positive aspects, we will be demotivated. This can lead to what is often said that players do not earn their salary and that they do not seem to want to win.
Thus, the pressure is all those interpretations (internal and external) that we do, or others do, about the meaning that a given situation will have. Interpretations that will be transformed into thoughts that will condition our
Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to manage it. If we want to change our interpretation of the final, we will have to focus on changing the thoughts that generate that pressure. Another way would be to change the
In either case, the first thing we need to know is what is happening: what do I think and why do I think about it? Or, what do I do and why do I do it?
“We will use relaxation techniques if
we are over activated, key words
to concentrate on the relevant aspects…”
Once we know how and when pressure influences us, we can use specific strategies to cope with it. For example, we will use relaxation techniques if we are
And, like any other aspect that affects competitive performance, the best way to be prepared before a final is to have progressively practiced the management of this type of situations previously. Let’s not forget that to reach a final you must have been able to succeed in a semi-final, so you only need to go one step further.