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Do you see a Challenge or a Threat?

When you step onto the 18th fairway with the match on the line, do you feel a sense of dread, of fear, or do you feel yourself jumping at the chance to close this out for yourself?

As a closer in baseball, do you get pumped with excitement when the manager points your way to close out the 3-2 win, or does each step from the bullpen to the mound fell heavier and heavier?

When your netminder gets pulled late in the game for an added skater (you!) do your shoulders get tight and strides get stiff, or does your ice awareness come alive even more at a chance to be a part of the tying goal?

Many categorize these scenarios as "pressure" situations. The crowd certainly feels it, whether that's just a group of parents in the stands, the student body or paying customers watching you play.

But, do YOU have to feel it? It all depends...on whether you see the situation as a Challenge or as a Threat.

We all have some pre-game, or pre-play jitters. That is part of being in the right mindset and physical readiness phase of playing optimally. However, when those jitters turn to nightmares or fear, that's when the "pressure" gets to us, as athletes.

What we want to do in those fearful moments is turn that perspective of being threatened, essentially, to one of being challenged. Read that sentence over again and emphasize both words.

"Am I seeing this situation as a Threat or as a Challenge?"

When your read the sentence you can feel the difference when saying those two words, right? There is a certain set of thoughts that come into play when saying the word "Threat" vs. the word "Challenge."

That is what you want to try and reel in for yourself in those situations. Think of those threats now as challenges, as experiences you WANT to do, that you're excited about, that you look forward to and that changes your mental game.

A study by Harvard Business school researcher and faculty member, Alison Wood Brooks, found that those that see a nerve wracking event as an opportunity rather than as a threat perform better. She states that those who reframe their anxiety as excitement show more enthusiasm and perform better.

So, next time you are in that "crunch" situation, ask yourself, Is this a Threat, or is it a Challenge?

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