Performance Tip: Just Do It!

There are certain plays in games where an athlete has to wait momentarily before taking action. Examples include a soccer player waiting to take a penalty kick, a tennis player waiting to serve, and a basketball player waiting to shoot a free-throw. In these situations, the longer you wait to take action, the more likely you are to overthink and choke. Conversely, the sooner you commit to taking action, the less likely you are to overthink and choke. Here is an example to explain why this is the case.

When a basketball player is nervous about taking a free-throw, he usually waits longer than he normally does to shoot. This is because he doesn't believe he is ready to shoot. He may think he is too nervous and will likely miss, therefore he takes more time to settle his thoughts and emotions. Sometimes this helps, but sometimes it backfires. Instead of calming the athlete down, waiting to shoot can actually lead to the athlete overthinking and becoming more nervous. This is because the more time you wait, the more time you allow negative thoughts to enter your mind. Often, you're better off taking action sooner because this helps prevent overthinking. The sooner you "just do it," the less time you have to overthink and get even more nervous. 

Sometimes athletes are convinced that they need more time to calm down. Like I said above, sometimes this helps. For example, taking the time to take a deep breath and use positive self-talk can definitely help calm your nerves. However, these strategies can only help you so much. When under real pressure, you're most likely not going to be able to calm yourself down 100%. You're almost always going to feel some amount of nervousness. At some point, you have to accept your nervousness and decide to be brave. Being brave means acting despite feeling nervous. This is what the "just do it!" strategy does. It helps you be brave. When you commit to taking action sooner, without hesitation, you are basically telling yourself, "Even though I'm a little nervous right now, I'm going to embrace the moment, be brave, and just do it!"
This bravery, along with the prevention of overthinking, is what makes the "just do it" strategy effective.

It's easier said than done, but when under pressure, you need to remember that you're better off taking action sooner rather than later. You shouldn't rush too quickly into your shot, but after you've taken the necessary amount of time to prepare your body and mind, then you need to take the shot! It's not going to get any easier by waiting longer, so just be brave and take the shot! 3-2-1 Go!