Don’t think about final glory, just do it
So it’s big-final time! We all love to see the best players playing in the biggest tournaments. We appreciate their talent and skill, and marvel at the creative application of those skills. However, what do the best players think to allow them to perform under such pressure?
I remember a Premier League manager who used to always tell his players before they went out to “enjoy being on the ball” and I think it’s really good advice. I think that the big players relish the big occasion. It is seen as an opportunity to showcase their talent. They know that nothing can be achieved without enjoyment and enthusiasm and, more importantly, realise that their talent will be stifled by nerves and tension.
We often see professionals go back to being amateurs when it comes to performing under pressure. The best example of which is the dreaded dream-ending, heartbreaking, nail-biting penalty shoot-out. You see, if you are a top footballer, your subconscious mind knows more about football then you ever will. It is only when our critical mind – the one we use for “thinking”, not just “doing” – gets involved that we get compromised.
If we can just fall back on knowing that we know how to do something, and not having to consciously calculate how to do it, we stand more chance of performance. This is perfectly illustrated by the fact a player can make a pinpoint pass while running at speed, off balance, over 50 yards but when it comes to the penalty spot, the bit about turning amateur is in the fact that we start to “over think”. We become technical and mindful of the process.
The best players on the world stage know that their talent is innate. It is part of them and they can rely on it. They do not question whether they will perform well, they wonder how great they will perform. They vividly imagine scoring the winning or opening goal and making the essential tackles. They tap in to the rich history and evidence of performing, which exists in their minds from previous world-stage encounters.
The best players will not be overawed with the meaning of the final 90 minutes of the tournament, as those from Spain and Italy should show us in Kiev tomorrow night. They will relish the personal and team glory afforded to them by doing what they do best. By not thinking about technique or practical thoughts, they are free to express themselves through their natural skills and expertise.
So maybe we should trust ourselves a little more with our skills, be they in sport or at work. Maybe less thinking should be the way forward. Think about it …