Thriving When the Stakes are High!

(Turning Crises into Opportunity)

Rocky Marciano always rose to the occasion

It’s 4th and goal, one yard to go and the game is on the line, you know the kind where you see nothing but elbows and assholes.

A game-day fullback prays for the pig skin, knowing if he gets the ball he will score; no matter what’s in front of him, he will find a way, thriving under pressure because of faith and expectancy.   

Athletes should perform better in a high-stakes championship game than in an exhibition one!

I have never understood powerlifters who brag about giant gym lifts while producing pygmy lifts on the platform!  Powerlifters should be lifting more in meets than in training.

Here are some tips to help you become a game-day player.

These are courtesy of the late Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his iconic book Psycho-Cybernetics.

Practice without Pressure

The more pressure and tense a situation is, the more difficult it is learn.  But, interestingly, you should prepare for a high-pressure situation by practicing without pressure.

The greatest Sniper of all-time, the immortal Carlos Hatchcock, killed the Viet Cong’s greatest sniper, “Cobra”, by seeing a glint of light in the jungle foliage. Hathcock squeezed the trigger of his Winchester Model 70 30-06 and without ever seeing his enemy, put a bullet through Cobra’s scope, directly into his eye and killed the man who stood to gain $30,000 by killing him. Hathcock started off by shooting targets and hunting for squirrels as a kid, alone and with no pressure.

A novice boxer will not hone his boxing skills by sparring against a seasoned professional trying to put him six feet deep, the novice will never be able to relax, he will simply fall into survival mode.  This novice boxer can develop his skills with footwork drills, shadow boxing, mitt work, heavy bag work, and sparring with partners of similar ability. 

Golfers should practice their swing, alone and without pressure. 

Billy Graham gave many sermons to stumps in the Florida swamps before he ever gave a sermon to a live audience. 

All of this no pressure or “private practice” wires neural circuits in your brain or forms mental maps.  You will be able to navigate with these maps in future high-stakes situations. All of the practice will make you unconsciously competent, because your nervous system, brain and muscles will band together to triumph.

Your self-image is the mental portrait you have of yourself.  Remember, your subconscious makes it a moral issue for your actions to align with your self-image.  Practice without pressure, by default, builds a self-image that expects you to perform at your best.

High Stakes = Power

During a high-stakes situation, you will be excited, nervous and scared.  The “nerves” or “excitement” can be harnessed and directed however you choose.

When you are in a high-stakes or crisis situation, the key to capitalizing  is aggressively responding to your goal.  You are like a bicycle, either you must move forward toward your goal or fall off!  Being purpose-driven toward your goal activates chemicals the brain and it becomes addicting.  More and more unexplainable synchronicities start happening, you start living in the zone!

Worst Case Scenario

If you are still apprehensive—think what is the worst-case scenario and can I live with it?  Will you regret more the shots you didn’t take or the shots you missed?  If you can live with the worst-case scenario, the shot is worth taking.

Final Thoughts

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said more than two thousand years ago, “Man is not troubled by events but rather how he interprets them.”

By properly preparing pressure moments are a fun but challenging opportunity!

Check Out Tactical Strongman

“Great read with tons of information for all strength athletes competitive or not. All members of the military should pick up this book and immediately apply these concepts to their training, especially those in charge of PT at any level.”

Nick DiLeo, US Army