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Learn to Relax and Win Under Pressure

Learning to relax seems like a sensible plan of action for any athlete or coach living a hectic lifestyle. Yet, for many athletes and coaches, trying not to try seems strange. Coaches and athletes work many hours to get things done. But with relaxation, we need to let our body and mind do the work for us. Our body and mind relax when we permit them to do so. So we need to ‘let go’ in order to ‘let go’. This notion seems strange so we need to be patient as we learn to relax. To build relaxation into our lives, we need to follow at least four steps. First, plan. Plan where and when you intend to relax. You might need to set aside 20 minutes in your day for yourself. You can use a meditation track from iTunes - choose the one you like. Second, practice. You need to practise learning to relax. I suggest you build relaxation into your daily life - this 15 or 20 minutes is the least you deserve for yourself. Work on practising your relaxation for at least three weeks. Third, apply. You need to apply the skills you learn to simple everyday tasks. For example, you might focus on your breathing when you receive troubling feedback from your coach or athlete. You can catch the tension and emotional wave early before it turns into a tsunami in your mind. Finally, we extend these relaxation skills into more pressing situations (e.g., a practice penalty shootout) and then into match situations. We might challenge ourselves to stay relaxed when we misplace a pass early in the game. In summary: Plan - Practice - Apply - Apply 1. Plan where and when you intend to relax 2. Practice for 20 minutes each day for three weeks 3. Apply your relaxation skills to low-level stress events 4. Apply your relaxation skills to high-level stress events

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