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Performing Under Pressure: Gaining the Mental Edge in Business and Sport by Saul L Miller

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Chapter 12. INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

 

"Pressure creates tension and when you're tense you want to get the task over as fast as possible. The more you hurry in golf the worse you probably will play, which leads to even heavier pressure and greater tension. To avoid this vicious circle I'll take a few deep breaths and quickly review why I'm doing what I'm doing."

 
 --Jack Nicklaus, PGA Champion
 

"The pressure makes me more intent on each shot. Pressure on the last few holes makes me play better."

 
 --Nancy Lopez, PGA Champion

We're all different. Everyone is unique and special. Most people prefer to minimize pressure for optimal performance. Some, however, seem to thrive on pressure and seek out challenging situations that pump them up. It is very important to discover what works for you.

A few facts of life:

  • In our high-pressure, high-stress society, almost everyone can benefit from bringing more ease to their process and improving their ability to relax and reduce stress.

  • The most common response to pressure is to contract and tighten up.

  • A simple, effective antidote to performance dis-ease, whether it's in a ball game, a conference, a concert, or an exam is to release... breathe... refocus. On the other hand, I find that a minority of my clients perform better by increasing (as opposed to decreasing) their level of emotional intensity or arousal. Within limits, their preferred response to pressure is to "pump themselves up."

Tennis, anyone? Tennis was the first sport I worked with, and it ...

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