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How To Perform Under Pressure

Aug 25, 2007
My wife and I rented a pressure washer last weekend to clean the patio and pool area in the back and our front entry way. What a great tool.

If you've ever used one you know the fantastic feeling of power that comes with blowing away the bad guys (dirt and grime). We practically fought over the chance to obliterate the mixture of green and black crud that had snuck its way onto our beautiful stuff.

The guy we rented from said there's no need to add soap, the water alone will get the job done because it is under enough pressure. It in turn puts enough pressure on whatever the water hits to strip it to its essence. In other words, pressure strips away superficial appearances and reveals what is really there. You get to see what you and other things -- are made of.

To find out what's inside of an orange, squeeze it (we have two trees full in our yard, so feel free to stop by and try one). To find out what your tile and patio floor really look like, pressure wash them.

When I accidentally sprayed the arm of the wooden rocker we have on our front porch I learned that wood is not as tough as tile. I'm hoping a quick sanding job and a coat or two of paint will smooth out the chunk that got blown out.

Athletes are the same way: Under pressure their true nature is revealed. We saw an amazing performance from Texas QB Vince Young in the Rose Bowl two years ago.

It was the biggest game on the biggest stage and his teammates report that he was smiling in the huddle. I would pick him first in the draft not just on his talent, but on his mental make up. I believe we saw his essence in that game. Derek Jeter is almost always better in the post-season than in the regular season.

You can't change some things about yourself (that is, you might not be able to be just like Vince or Derek), but you can improve on what you've got now. One place to improve your ability to handle pressure is practice.

So as you players ramp up for the new season, practice at game intensity as best you can. Put pressure on yourself so you condition yourself for the pressure that is sure to come later.

A formula for mental toughness and confidence, whether you are baseball coaching or baseball playing: Make practice just like games so in games you can say Just like practice.
About the Author
Tom Hanson, Ph.D. is author of "Who Will Do What by When? How to Improve Performance, Accountability and Trust with Integrity." Tom gives away more information than he should on how to get the best results from business teams at http://www.HeadsUpPerformance.com
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