Handling Pressure: How Competitive Sports Prepare You For Life’s Challenges

While not everyone is a major sports fan who reads statistics from professional organizations on a daily basis, a vast majority of the population has competed in organized competitive sports at least once in their lifetime. Whether it be at a neighborhood level or national level, competitive sports can teach us a lot about life.

One of the biggest ways in which sports help us with everyday life is how they teach us to handle pressure. Let’s take a look at the beauty of competitive sports and how it helps you on a daily basis to get that edge you need while allowing you to keep your cool.

Pressure Faced At All Levels

No matter what level of competitive sport you’re at, there’s going to be a lot of pressure. Even if you’re in low-competition youth sports, you can tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself because you know that your coaches, teammates, and parents are watching. At the highest level, there could potentially be billions of people watching with millions of dollars at stake for your own salary and the lasting legacy left behind when the media’s talking heads discuss public opinion on your career.

The pressure that we face in sports is similar to the pressure that we feel in real life. Let’s say that you’re interviewing for a new job and there are other people going for the same job. There’s pressure to stand out above the rest so that you can land the dream job you want and start earning more money. You have to outperform those other people, and your ability to stay cool and nail the interview is like hitting the go-ahead three-pointer to win a basketball game.

Working Together

Handling pressure isn’t the only other big aspect of life that competitive sports teach us on a daily basis. Most competitive sports rely on you working with a team of people to accomplish your goals, and even individual sports like golf and tennis have coaches that you can learn from at the highest level. There’s always going to be feedback whether it’s coming from a teammate or authority figure, and how you handle that feedback is going to make or break your career.

When you look at some of the most accomplished athletes in sports history, many of them are applauded for being great teammates who are capable of handling constructive criticism. When it comes to the NFL, you think of guys like Patrick Mahomes, Ray Lewis, and Drew Brees as terrific leaders in the locker room while others like Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, or Johnny Manziel couldn’t handle the pressure of being leaders and found themselves as some of the biggest draft busts in league history.

Remember that the pressure that you feel doesn’t apply only to you. There are others relying on you to come through in the clutch and elevate the entire team to the top. When everyone is able to handle pressure without breaking, then the whole team is likely to find success in their personal and professional lives.

What The Greats Have To Say

When you think of the greatest athletes in each major sport’s history, there’s one thing that they have in common, and that’s how to handle the most pressure-filled moments. Let’s take a look at what some of those all-time greats had to say about pressure, and how that can be applied to your everyday life.

Michael Jordan

Considered by many to be the greatest and most accomplished player in NBA history, Michael Jordan was given the ball in almost every pressure-filled situation as a member of the Chicago Bulls during their six successful NBA title runs. “The only way to relieve that pressure is to build your fundamentals, practice them over and over, so when (the) game breaks down, you can handle anything that transpires.” Practice makes perfect in every aspect of life, and relying on what you know when things go haywire is a good way to find success in an unconventional way.

Wayne Gretzky

Without a doubt, the greatest player in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky was heralded as the next Gordie Howe from the time he was in his young teenage years. “The headline said, ‘(Bobby) Hull, (Maurice) Richard, (Gordie) Howe, and Gretzky,’” he said of his first interview. “That was lots of pressure.” Despite all of the massive expectations, Gretzky was able to exceed those thanks to his tight-knit family. “I think the most important thing is your parents,” Gretzky said. “The one thing that we all have in common is that we have such a close bond with our moms and dads.”

Tom Brady

With a record seven Super Bowl wins, no football player faced as much pressure as Tom Brady, and he thrived on it. “I feel like I’m just really focused and I feel like I really can hone in on what I need to do,” Brady said. “There’s pressure on you from the day you walk in the door…Whether it’s practice, walkthrough, meetings – ultimately as it comes up to the game, this is when you need to be at your highest.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *