Psych-outs and intimidation! You know, that awful nervous feeling in your gut…the dread going into the performance….those overwhelming feelings of doubt and worry….and the belief that your opponent is so much bigger, faster and stronger than you. You try to “think positive” and tell yourself that you’re just as good, have worked just as hard and that you deserve to win just as much…but it seems to fall on deaf ears. The fact of the matter is that deep down, as much as you’d like to, you don’t believe a word of that positive junk!
What causes athletes and teams to get psyched out and intimidated? More important, what can you do to prevent this from happening?
Psychouts & intimidation have one main cause. They are the direct result of a very common mental mistake. When you allow your focus of concentration to drift away from what you are doing and go to your opponent you will soon begin to feel the unnerving feelings that come with this mental condition. To perform your best, you must learn to stay centered and focus on YOU. You must keep your concentration on what YOU are doing, on your job, in the present. However, if you allow your focus to go to your opponent and you begin thinking about his/her record, reputation, skills, coaching or training advantages, size and/or strength, then you will be setting yourself up to get intimidated.
No one can psych you out or intimidate you unless YOU allow it to happen. You allow this to happen by paying attention to your opponent and what he/she is doing. If you want to stay cool, calm and collected under pressure and play the game that you are capable of regardless of the competition, then you need to practice controlling your concentration. When you become aware that your focus is drifting to anything about your opponent before or during a game, your job is to be aware of this and quickly return your concentration back to what YOU are doing in the NOW. If 2 minutes later you drift back to the opponent, bring yourself back again. No matter how many times you lose control of your focus and go to your opponent, BRING YOURSELF BACK!
If you get in the habit of focusing on YOU, your job and playing your own game, then the chances that you’ll get psyched out or intimidated will go way down.