Watch Texas Rangers relief pitching if you want to learn how to NOT be clutch! Wow, I mean come on. How does that one kid throw 11 balls in a row and walk two SF Giants batters in the 8th inning of Game 2 when the bases are loaded? It’s absolutely unbelievable how bad the Texas Rangers relief pitching was, and it’s simply due to mental weakness. Texas going from having a chance down 0-2 in the 8th to losing the game 0-9 is a 100% ass kicking.
I understand how difficult it is to close things out due to competitive tennis. I’ve blown my share of 5-4, third set leads before, and 9 times out of 10, it’s because my mind broke down. Tennis, like many one-on-one sports is a complete mind bend. I started worrying and thinking about all the “what ifs”. What if I shank the ball when going for it? What if my calves start cramping? What if he starts catching fire? As soon as I start filling my mind with doubt, my body follows suite and then before I know it, I’ve blown the lead and lose.
I’ve since been able to calm some nerves that have helped me cross the finish line in tight situations before. Here are some tips for keeping your head in the game.
* Think of nothing. During a competitive situation, my mind literally goes blank. It’s as if I’m out of my body observing myself act. From the service motion, to driving the top spin backhand cross court, there is nothing on my mind except the 100% commitment to win. Some people call this act “zoning.” To zone, I picture a pure white cloud of nothingness before each serve. It fills up my entire mental surrounding. There is nothing infiltrating my mind as I go ahead and act.
* Know that you will win. In order for you to compete effectively, you have to already believe you have won. You know this largely due to your preparation. You don’t have to know that you are better than them at everything. All you need to do is believe you are better than them at one thing. I’m convinced I will be able to outrun my opponents and drive them into the ground. They will collapse from exhaustion if they try and rally, so they try and go for more and make errors in the process. Knowing that they will eventually wilt from exhaustion gives me confidence to succeed.
* Put everything in perspective. Once you tell yourself it’s just a game you start to relax. When you know it’s OK to lose, you start swinging away. Once you start swinging away you no longer worry about the little things because everything just clicks. Having perspective is healthy in sports, work, blogging, and practically everything you do. Once you know you are not an unattractive person, but a beautiful monkey, you start feeling great!
Being clutch is a complete state of mind. Nowhere do you see more examples of clutch than with Olympic gold medalists. They’ve done the moves time and time again during practice. It’s those few moments that really count where they excel the most. Playing competitive sports definitely helps one’s abilities in non-physical arenas such as work. There’s a reason why so many firms look to hire student athletes, and so many CEOs are single handicap golfers. They know what clutch is and how to deal with difficult situations.
Who knows who will win the 2010 World Series. But, if I was a betting man, I’d go all-in on the San Francisco Giants baby!
Readers, what are some of the things you do to calm the nerves in crucial situations? Have you ever surprised yourself with your clutchness?
PS For bloggers out there, it’s the same thing. Survival is a tough one and it is a long slog. How can you go straight to the top with so much content out there and competition? You simply zone and write like no one else for a methodically consistent period of time. And then you patiently wait for things to percolate. You know you will win because blogging is easy compared to surviving in the Amazon jungle, naked, with no matches or food!