Performance & Stress - Where are YOU at?

performance pre-competition resilience stress Sep 17, 2019

What is the optimum level of stress/pressure at which athletes perform at their best?

Are you the type of athlete that needs to get “amped up” before a game or competition? 

Or are you the type that gets too stimulated before a competition and needs to dial it back to perform at your best? 

The answer to these questions may help determine what kind of pre-game/pre-competition routine you should be doing.

More importantly, the answer to these questions will likely improve your chances of performing at your best when it matters the most. 

The attached video discusses the relationship between performance and stress that impacts all athletes. It covers what is called the inverted-U theory, or to be precise, the Yerkes-Dodson theory.  If we experience too little stress/stimulation, we don’t feel motivated to perform at a high level. Too much stress/stimulation, on the other hand, can be debilitating and lead to poor performance. 

What we’re looking for in each athlete is to find the “goldilocks” formula of just the right amount of stress.

Every athlete is different - some generally need to increase their stimulation to get going. Others are over-stimulated and need to reduce stress for optimal performance. 

So what to do?

For players:

1. Think about when you have played at your best? Do you often find yourself on the left side of the chart or the right? (Note: this can even change game to game as you play against different levels of competition)

2. For those who are chronically under-stimulated and need to “amp it up,” consider creating an alter ego like Kobe Bryant. In order to get him going and separate his on-court persona from his persona off the court, Bryant famously created the “Black Mamba.” You may also want to interact with high-energy players and coaches who you can feed off of to get more stimulated.

3. For those who get overly-stimulated for competition, you want to include some breathing and visualization/imagery exercises into your pre-competition routine. Find quiet areas to get your mind right, get lost in your music, and avoid those high-energy players who will increase your stimulation.

For coaches:

1. Consider talking to your players and seeing where they put themselves on the chart. One of my colleagues (Krista Horsmon) asks her players what their “hype number” is before games. 

2. Knowing this information will allow you to govern the collective psyche of your team, push (or avoid pushing) certain buttons with certain players, and even influence team rules. For example, a team with a majority of players who need to get “amped up” to perform at their best is unlikely to benefit from a “no-noise” rule for the bus and pre-game lockerroom. 

3. Communicating the different player preferences is likely to create more understanding and respected boundaries. If I know my teammate needs to quiet his mind before a competition to perform at his best, then I can respect his space and avoid over-stimulating him before we go out onto the field. 

Want to learn how to create an alter ego or inject negative self-talk into my pre-game routine to get properly amped up? Or conversely, want to learn visualization and imagery exercises to reduce stress and bring my heart rate down? 

Then sign up for a free consultation call with me at

Mindset matters!

Bryan Price


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