With winter netball finals starting up for another year I thought it was timely to share with you my tips for staying calm under pressure and playing well in BIG games.
The key – mindset!
Being able to keep calm and relaxed in pressure situations is very challenging and takes a lot of practice. I spent my entire career trying to master it, but it wasn’t until I heard some wise words from the great Liz Ellis before the 2007 World Championship Final, that I could actually achieve it!
‘Big games are won by players who have the presence of mind to do ordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.’
Sorry if I have minced your words Liz, it was almost 10 years ago now, but the important point is the meaning behind these words. I have thought about this statement before every BIG game I have played in since, my mindset had been forever changed!
I took her words to mean that I didn’t need to try harder, do more, run faster, jump higher or do things differently than ever before. It made me realise if I (and the team) played like we had every game before that, the result would take care of itself. And it did- we won! Without putting pressure on myself to play better than ever before, I could clear my mind and focus on doing things I did well every game, for example hit the edge of the circle in attack, hands over three feet defence every time my player had the ball. I could focus on the process rather than the outcome and when you can do that, you can be calm and relaxed – you can just play like YOU and enjoy it!
I am certainly not saying that you shouldn’t feel nervous, I always felt nervous before BIG games. I believe that if you don’t feel nerves the end result doesn’t mean enough to you – it shows you care! The important thing to consider here is to make your nerves work for you. Despite the excitement and nervous energy that comes with playing a final my advice is to try to stick to your usual pre game routine. When you stick to your routine you can conserve the nervous energy and can release it out on court, rather than feeling tired and fatigued before the game has even started.
Getting your mindset right and controlling your nervous energy will help you play well in big games.
Good luck and let me know how you go, I’d love to hear from you!