Dealing With Pressure/Anxiety In Big Games (Gonzaga)

Some of my best college moments were when we beat Gonzaga at their place back to back years. It takes a special night physically and mentally to beat a team of that caliber on their home floor.

What makes Big Games Different than Any Game?

The key to being successful in Big games is to the exact same thing you do every game, but elevate your energy, effort, and focus a notch. Big game or not you still need to approach every game the same way. I think this is why it’s so important to have game day routines that you dive into and let your mind just focus on the task at hand. So whether you are playing Gonzaga who is ranked #1 in the Country or LMU your routines and pre game stuff should be exactly the same. I would also let the crowd in these big games boost my energy and effort and I would approach it just like any other game.

As a professional athlete I can’t express enough the importance of having a routine on game days that allows you to release your mind and focus on getting ready for the game. Remember the key to reducing anxiety is

  • Prepare “If you are prepared you shall not fear” The best way to keep your anxiety down in big games is to prepare. I heard a cool story in a book I’m reading about Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather invited his friend back into his locker room before one of his biggest fights. Him and his friend would talk and whenever there was a silence the friend who say listen Floyd I know you got a big fight I’ll let you focus and relax. Floyd responded and said no stay I enjoy your company. This happened a few times and Floyd finally said, listen at this point I’m either prepared and ready to win or I’m not so sit down and let’s catch up. Pretty cool story that shows that your work is done way before the game even starts. Preparation creates confidence and confidence sets you up for success.
  • Control the Controllable Focus only on things you can control in games. Especially Big games like this there is going to be a ton of emotion and you have to control your emotion and focus on the things you can control. There is too much you can’t control in a game that you can’t waste your energy and effort on.
  • Stay in the Present Even if you have missed your last 5 shots or made your last 5 the key is to stay in the present and focus on the task at hand. We also say “the next play” things happen too fast in basketball to be worrying about your last play. If you do that you become indecisive and that is a set up for turning the ball over and not playing aggressive. In Preparation I always say “focus on the present with the future in mind.”

Big game or not the key is to approach every game the same and stay in your routines. Preparation is the key before the game, and controlling what you can control and staying in the present are huge during the game! Good luck to BYU tonight as they face Number 1 Gonzaga!

About Kyle

Kyle Collinsworth is a professional basketball player, currently playing for the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. He is a also a health coach, motivational speaker, and author or multiple books on health and fitness.

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