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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Champions Focus: Mental Toughness Under the Gun

Champions Focus: Mental Toughness Under the Gun
How well do you focus when under pressure? Does your focus wander to the what ifs? What if I don't get it done and blow a lead or embarrass myself?

In my work as a mental game expert, many of my students get caught in the mental trap of thinking too much about the *what ifs* or consequences of the outcome of a performance or game.

Having a clear goal of what you want to accomplish is critical to peak performance, but worrying too much about the end of the round, match, or game can be destructive to an execution-based (in-the-now) focus.

When under the gun during crunch-time, the top players are able to focus more intensely in the present moment. "One of the biggest differences between the top players and the good players is when they are under the gun, they see and hear less than anyone else. "
~Helen Alfredsson, LPGA Tour

What does Helen mean when she says other athletes see and hear less? The top athletes simply are less distracted when they *need to* hit a good shot, make a critical first down, or nail an important routine. They do not get caught up in the moment of intense pressure. Champion athletes are able to go deeper into an execution focus. They are able to focus only on what's important to successful performance.

Somehow the intensity of the moment spurs them to focus better in these situations. If you saw the "Soul of a Champion" series on Versus network, NY Yankee's Relief Pitcher, Mariano Rivera, talked about his ability to focus during a game and not pay attention to the potential distractions.

"I don't worry about things I can't control. Going into a game, I do not worry about 50,000 fans screaming or booing me. I focus on one thing only - get three guys out, "Mariano Rivera said.


About the Author: Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? Grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine - for athletes, coaches, and sports parents:
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach who work with professional and amateur athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. Visit for more information.

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