The Mental Edge 26 May 2023

26 May 2023

Mental Edge Newsletter

Helping You Gain A Mental Edge

9 Ways To Help You Handle Pressure Better Over The Longhaul

Are you someone who thrives off pressure?

Pressure in sport does funny things to us.  Some people go into overdrive and rush decisions whereas some people slow down.  Some become more aggressive in the way that they behave and others go into their shell.   In relation to communication, some people raise their voices whereas other people go quiet.

When we consider athletes feelings in pressurised competitive situations some will get high on adrenaline and excitement whereas others will be paralysed by fear.

Cognitively, thoughts can vary from, “I can’t wait for tomorrows match” to “What if I embarrass myself“ or “I’m going to give my opponent the hardest match of their life” to “their team is so big and physical we’ve no chance today.”  Some people use excuses too, just like “I just don’t feel right today” or “I haven’t practiced well this week so I’m unlikely to do well today.”

In sport, pressure refers to the feelings and thoughts an athlete has about performing in competitive situations and the behaviours that we then witness as spectators.

So how can athletes ensure that their mental and physical responses to pressure are positive?

How can athletes harness energy and conviction when faced with pressure?

How can athletes rise to challenges that present themselves?

I’d start by reading the following 8 tips:

1. Try using a Challenge Mindset

You could go in with a challenge mindset, not a threat mindset.  What I mean is you could see the match or big event as a challenge to show off your skills rather than worrying and feeling fearful.  For example, in April 2022 Brentford FC, as huge underdogs, went to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea FC comfortably 4-1.  They had no right to do so, and if they approached the game with fear the scoreline would most likely have been the other way round.  So something worth considering is what a David Vs Goliath mindset looks and feels like to you.

2. Be aware of the Controllables

Understand what is within your control and outside your control and look to focus on your behaviours not your opponent.   For example, a former client could have been described as a short footballer, a similar size to Phil Foden of Manchester City.  When he came up against big physical opponents he dreaded games and didn’t express himself.  The trick is to consider what players just like Phil Foden, or the Spanish legend Xavi would think, feel and go on to act like on the pitch when up against bigger and aggressive opponents.

3. Play to your Strengths

Try making a note of your strengths as an athlete and as a person.  Consider questions such as what do other people compliment me on? What do others consider I’m good at? What do my opponents fear from me? What am I very consistent with? Look to appreciate your strengths and play to them as much as you can.

4. Improve your Super Strength

If you want to take it a step further spending time to improve your strengths on a regular basis is a great way to enhance your confidence too.  Asking what separates me as a footballer or cricketer? What makes me stand out? What do I deliver more consistently than other players? What can you rely on, pretty much all of the time? On a scale of 1-10 what level is my super strength now? What can I do better to continue improving my super strength? What do I expect from myself regarding my super strengths? How will I make my super strength more robust?

5. Practice pressure situations in your mind

Consider game like situations before you compete and challenges that you may face too going on to imagine in your mind, visualising yourself coming out on top and responding like champions do.



6. Tune in to this weeks Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast

Where former Professional Australian Rugby League player and now an inspiring speaker and personal trainer, David Lindsay talks to me about ways you can improve your vitality to improve your chances of success.  We also touch on Mental Toughness in a Professional Rugby League as well as discussing the psychological side to martial arts.

7. More insights to listen to!

Listen to 3 excellent podcasts on resting and recovery and taking care of yourself to ensure that your energy levels are topped up over the longhaul.

Ep015: Nick Grantham – Essential Elements of Rest and Recovery

Ep113: Polly Brennan – The Relationship Between Mental Fitness, Mental Health and Mental Toughness

Ep138: Nick Littlehales – Why do the Mentally Tough see Sleep and Recovery as Important

8. You could also consider reading the following blogs to help you with your mental preparation so that you embrace pressure better.

Blog: How To Play Well When You Aren’t Feeling Great

Blog: Mental Preparation for Combat Sports

Blog: Does Your Warm Up Influence How You Perform?

Blog: Helping Young Rugby Players Mentally Prepare Before Matches

Bonus Tip: View our posts on Instagram

Where this week we have received a lot of engagement on psyching yourself up including the following posts.


David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Sports Psychologist | Mental Performance Coach who supports many highly motivated athletes, young and old, developing their skills or who are already highly skilled so that they gain a mental edge and get the most from their talent across the globe from USA/Canada to Great Britain and Ireland to UAE, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence

Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast

Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub 

Author of The Mental Edge

With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to transfer their skills from training to competitive situations, under pressure.

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Mental Edge Newsletter

Search Our Sports Psychology Website

Popular Categories

Mental Edge Newsletter

Are you an athlete, coach or parent that would like to learn how to create sustainable high performance? Receive our free regular newsletter, where we share proven mental toughness and high performance tips and strategies. If you want some support and motivation straight to your inbox, then sign up below.

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.