Getting In The Zone: 5 Strategies To Help You Keep Focus, Be Calm and Perform Under Pressure

Setting a strong foundation – repetition, repetition, repetition.

One of the most effective ways to increase your performance in anything is simply by turning up and practicing! This may sound extremely obvious but it can be discounted far too often. Some people want all the glory but are not willing to put in the time to achieve it. So repetition, repetition, repetition cannot be overlooked as it’s the cornerstone of executing the task in hand.

Moving practice to performance

With a strong foundation in practice, our next task is to convert that to the match or performance. A classic example is the musician. They practice for many years in their bedroom to then hopefully one day play to hundreds or thousands of people. Their next step is to then move that playing to the stage.

The paradox of performance

Let’s just quickly address one area that can cause many people to trip over when trying to perform at their best. Always wanting to perform at perfect standards can cause problems if it’s not addressed and managed. We want to create an environment in which we push for our best performances, aim for a high level/standard, but have a heavy level of perspective whilst doing it. So if we have a bad day at work or at the session, we can quickly turn ourselves back around and get back to it.

Taking off the pressure

One of the most effective ways to take the pressure off yourself is to simmer the amount of focus on yourself. This is a little paradoxical, but the best way to do it is to focus on your main mission. Some performers, instead of focusing so much on themselves, switch their focus to entertain the crowd; giving them a great evening or offering a product or performance that can impact their lives. This can be especially helpful for entrepreneurs. When they focus on their overall mission, it can help keep them on track when the challenges come. It helps to alleviate the pressure THEY PUT ON THEMSELVES!

So let’s take a look at ten techniques that you can apply in any pressurised situation:

  • Visualisation – visualisation plays a huge part for many athletes and performers. Simply put, it’s the ability to visualise the desired outcome you would like by mentally running through your performance, bit by bit. This is a great technique for many golfers, basketball players, musicians etc – they clearly visualise the outcome they would like. A study by Edmund Jacobson proved how effective visualisation truly is with a set of basketball players. Check it out! http://www.llewellyn.com/encyclopedia/article/244
  • Movement – your physical body (the way you position your body). Resetting your posture under pressure can massively affect your performance. Take Cristiano Ronaldo’s body positioning when he steps up to take a free kick. With Ronaldo being a ‘J’ shape kicker (direction of the kick) he inputs greater power into the ball in the direction of the kick. His upright posture gives him a ‘power’ stance that can also add huge mental benefits. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has done some phenomenal work on body language and how it effects our testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain. Fascinating! http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
  • Meditation – in any pressurised situation, being able to regulate your thoughts and emotions is huge. Meditation can be a great tool to keep your emotions and impulses at bay in performance. Restful alertness is the key here: with training we become more and more aware of our thoughts and emotions. Therefore, we can respond more effectively in high performance.
  • Language – reframing the situation – a healthy way to increase your performance is the way you shape the situation. Many performers still feel nerves before aperformance, but it’s how they manage and use it to their advantage that is the key. Mike Tyson before many of his boxing fights would be extremely nervous, but his coach would say: “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters”.
  • ‘There are many opportunities’ – think about how many times you have to get it right. The band Coldplay got turned down by over 20 record companies but they kept going. You will have other opportunities if you put yourself out there and keep on being proactive. The irony is you feel less pressure knowing there will be other opportunities.

These are five of many strategies you can begin to develop in your arena. Start with one and see how it can help with your development and training.

Step into your greatness today!


Musician, teacher and life coach, Daniel Rutter is on a mission to help people find their own greatness across the globe. Whether its increasing performance, having better relationships, finding your purpose in life or finding the happiness you want, Danny has developed the tools needed to help each individual awaken their own greatness.

 
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