By Deron Sorrell
Pressure is not easily defined. Pressure takes many forms. It can be both created by circumstance or self–imposed. Pressure is not discriminatory, but often affects people differently.
Pressure is equally a deadly enemy and a best friend. Pressure is impossible to avoid while pursuing excellence. An awareness with regard to pressure is essential in order to achieve championships. What does pressure mean to you?
Pressure could be a parent who wants you to score more points or take more shots. Pressure can be your own desire to earn more playing time. Pressure can be attempting a free throw in the closing seconds of a tight game. Pressure can be shooting your only shot of a season with a twenty point lead. Pressure can be never taking a shot. Pressure can be attempting to dribble while being guarded by somebody seemingly quicker than you. Pressure can be an inability to utilize your off hand. Pressure can be missing your first four shots. Pressure can be losing more games than you win.
Pressure can be a packed gym. Pressure can be an empty gym. Pressure can be meeting your own expectations. Pressure can be effectively surpassing the expectations of others. Pressure can be bad officiating. Pressure can be expecting to win. Pressure can be fearing defeat. Pressure can be a winning streak. Pressure can be a losing streak. Pressure can be anywhere at any time. Pressure can be everywhere at once.
Successful people do not learn to overcome pressure, but rather to utilize it. The only way to avoid pressure is to willingly sacrifice our desire to succeed. For example, a student who has no care or concern with regard to graduation would effectively avoid feeling any pressure upon taking an exam. Avoiding pressure does not generate success, but rather effectively guarantees failure. How can we utilize pressure?
The keys to performing within a pressure packed environment are preparation and toughness. Preparation involves developing both necessary skills and a thorough understanding as to what is expected. Toughness means being ready, willing, and able to muster a complete effort without being aware in advance of an outcome
Toughness is putting forth our very best and accepting whatever the consequences. While pressure is capable of defeating most preparation and toughness, there are a very few exceptions. These exceptions are often referred to as champions. Are you prepared and tough enough, or has pressure conquered you?