Bonus Strategy for Dealing with Nervousness: Don't Let the Score Get Close

Last Sunday I finished up my series on the 7 strategies for dealing with nervousness and choking. Here is another strategy that I have thought of. It is a relatively minor strategy, but in many cases, it can be very helpful. I simply call it "don't let the score get close."

Nervousness is amplified late in games when the score is close. This is when choking occurs most often. An obvious solution to this is to not let the game get close towards the end of the game. I may sound like captain obvious since no one purposely tries to make the score close, but this is actually good advice. Let me explain. There is a common pattern that leads to choking. First, a team gains a lead. Then they get complacent and distracted. This allows the other team to make a comeback. If their comeback is successful and they make the score close again, the team that was originally winning by a large margin may get nervous. Their frustration from losing their lead may cause them to try too hard and choke. They begin playing tight and nervous while the other team continues to play with momentum and confidence. This often results in a complete come from behind victory for the team that was initially losing. I've seen this pattern play out many times.

So you need to understand that this can happen to you too. Therefore, you should always beware of becoming complacent and distracted after gaining a lead early in a game. There is always the chance that the other team comes back, which puts a lot of pressure on you late in the game and can cause you to choke. So your goal should to play a "complete game," where you play the entire game as best as you can. Never take a possession/play/point off. Never have a mental lapse. Never let your foot off the gas. Be dominant and play every minute like it's the last minute of the game. With this attitude, you minimize your chances of  blowing a lead and choking a game away. If you're dominant for 3 quarters, by the 4th quarter, you may have a large lead. And if you keep up this dominance, you won't let the score even get close. If you don't let the score get close, you will choke less, because it's hard to feel nervous when you're winning by a lot.

The key theme to this strategy is not putting yourself in pressure situations to begin with. This doesn't mean to avoid risks. It means to work so hard that the possibility of failure (which causes fear/nervousness) doesn't even get close.

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