In December 2020, my second book was published, titled Perform Beyond Pressure. It aims is to clarify and simplify the process of realising potential for aspiring athletes and performers.
Everyone spends hours developing their skills, but few consider the huge influence that perspective, thoughts and feelings have on performance. Your interpretations of who you are, why you play and what will make you successful will impact how you perform. Your interpretations of confidence, concentration, pressure and resilience will impact how you perform.
Perform Beyond Pressure helps individuals come to greater clarity about themselves, the game and finding the method and skill to adapt. This clarity enables enjoyment, ease in themselves and instinctive play, which is where all great, and truly meaningful, performances stem from.
It is written with the athlete themselves in mind, therefore this blog is about how parents can positively influence the process of their daughter or son performing beyond pressure. Here are three keys:
See Beyond Pressure
We are used to hearing that the best performers are great at performing under pressure. Which is like saying they have to carry a weight around on their shoulders, but at least they are good at carrying it. However, you do not have to carry the weight.
Pressure is a feeling. Feelings are made of thought. Thought is inherently illusory.
Ever said “That was better than I thought it was going to be?” Of course, you have because thoughts are just thoughts, not truths. And that includes all the thoughts about the consequences and what other people think that create the feeling of pressure. They are all stories that the mind creates and do not have to be believed or taken seriously.
The more that anyone realises that pressure is an illusion, the less they buy into it when the thoughts/feeling arises and so they start moving beyond it.
In truth, somebody can only ever see this for themselves. A parent can only do so much here, except see the truth of it for themselves and the chances are they will interact in a calmer, more relaxed way more often because they are not getting caught up in their thoughts about how something is ‘high pressure’.
It is Their Path
At every stage of ‘the path’ the parent’s role in helping performance will differ. Whilst this will be different for everyone, broadly, in childhood the parent will have a big role to play and will naturally shape a lot of the decision their child makes. Then in the teenage years, we all assert independence and the balance of decision-making evens out between parent and child. Then into adulthood, the ‘child’ is now responsible for all the decisions they make.
This is all natural. What is key to bear in mind is that realising potential comes in adulthood. Therefore, for any of us to realise our potential it is going to be a consequence of the actions we take for ourselves, with strong foundations of knowledge, experience and support to draw upon.
Therefore, the sooner you can allow your child to take responsibility for what they want to do, how they want to do it, what’s fun, what enables learning etc, then the more practice they will have had at it by the time it might make all the difference. They will get it wrong for sure, but they will get better at it with experience. It can pay off to become a good listener as quickly as possible, despite all the know-how that you have accumulated.
Avoid Compounding Misconceptions about Confidence, Concentration and Resilience
There are some very common beliefs in society that I think send us all in the completely wrong direction. I’ll unpick some of them briefly here:
Confidence: There’s an assumption that we need confidence to play well. It’s not true. You do not need to feel confident to play great.
Confidence is a nice feeling, but whether you are currently experiencing it or not, you are still the same player. Your skills are still exactly the same player (given all the training you have done), the feeling is just (temporarily) different. We’ve all had days when we have felt nervous, anxious or worse and yet we have ended up performing well – remember that.
Concentration: The reason that concentration seems like a tough proposition is because we think about it in terms of the total time that a successful action, task or performance takes. However, it can be so much easier. You only ever have to concentrate for a moment at a time.
Keep it that simple and when you get comfortable concentrating at one moment at a time, then at the end of day you might be able look back at a performance that appears from the outside as a ‘feat of concentration’. But it was just one moment at a time, added up.
Resilience: Resilience is not about putting on a ‘tough guy’ act or never getting upset. It is about learning and letting go of what has happened.
If you are playing the game to prove yourself rather than to enjoy the game, then bouncing back will be more effortful. However, resilience is a natural process when you love what you are doing and do not hold onto any insecure thoughts about your results. When you are looking for every opportunity to learn, whatever the result, then you are going to see the value in failures as well as successes and your natural resilience will shine through.
If you have any questions about this blog you can find me on I am Twitter @rdhudson00.
I would be delighted to hear from you.