Turn Up the Pressure to Train, Turn it Down to Perform

Here is some simple advice to improve more in practice and perform better in games: turn up the pressure to train, turn down the pressure to perform. This is very similar to the saying, "practice like you play, play like you practice." 

In general, there isn't as much pressure in practice as there is in games. It may not matter that much if you go through the motions and make mistakes in practice, because it's just practice. The consequences of your actions in practice aren't as immediate as they are in games. Overall, most athletes don't put enough pressure on themselves to train hard in practice, and they put too much pressure on themselves to perform well in games. As a result of this, they often enter competitions unprepared and overly anxious, which causes them to underperform and fail to reach their potential. 

This is why coaches need to teach athletes to turn up the pressure in practice and turn it down in games. Games are already pressure-filled enough. Athletes usually don't need to put more pressure on themselves than they already feel. This will only hurt their performance. The majority of athletes don't have trouble motivating themselves for games. It is more important that they calm themselves down and get out of their own heads so they can let their instincts take over and play up to their potential.

If an athlete is very nervous before a game, it may be because they didn't put enough pressure on themselves during practice. If they didn't take practice serious enough, and instead they goofed around and went through the motions, then they didn't fully prepare themselves for their game. Since they didn't prepare themselves as much as they could've, they will most likely feel less confident and more nervous in games. This is why athletes need to take training more seriously. You might not see the consequences of your practice habits right away, but eventually they'll show up in games. If you're lazy in practice, you will perform worse in games. If you train hard and smart, you will perform better in games. It's pretty simple, but many athletes don't seem to see this connection as clearly as they should.

Another reason why athletes should put more pressure on themselves to train is because training isn't always fun. Not many athletes like to wake up early in the morning to do an intense workout. To get yourself to train hard, you often have to be disciplined and use extrinsic motivation. You have to think about your goals in order to motivate yourself to do things you don't really want to do in the present moment. This extrinsic motivation can bring pressure and stress, which may make you uncomfortable, but in the end, it's worth it because you'll improve and gain success.

This doesn't mean you should never use intrinsic motivation during practice and extrinsic motivation during games. There are definitely times to practice for the fun of it and times to play hard for external reasons, but as a rule of thumb, you should increase the amount of pressure you feel during training and reduce it during games. This will help you improve more in practice and perform better in games! 

As an athlete, there's no avoiding pressure and stress. Either you're going to feel most of it during practice as you're working hard to improve and prepare yourself for games, or you're going to feel most of it before games as you're thinking about how unprepared you are. You get to choose when you put pressure on yourself.  You have to deal with pressure at some point, so you might as well deal with it during practice so you don’t feel as much pressure in games. So always remember, turn up the pressure to train, turn it down to perform!