Don’t think of a high-pressure situation as something that is high pressure – consider it a challenge and try to have a positive mindset, this will allow you to push through the nerves and get the job done, no matter what pressured situation is. “For example, the Ashes series, it’s a series that is placed on this large pedestal, so it was important I was able to reduce the stress from this high-pressure situation for myself and my team. I needed to bring winning the ashes off that pedestal, which then allowed my team to focus on their preparation and let the result take care of itself” says Michael Clarke.
In high-pressure situations, there are obviously aspects you can’t control, try focus on the parts you can control. For example, you can control how you prepare and train, so concentrate on doing your best training and preparation. “There are so many things that can go right and wrong, so you need to focus on the positives but also respect that not everything always works out according to plan, and you need to be able to adjust to that outcome,” says Michael Clarke.
When there is a high pressured situation, we tend to get so caught up in it that we forget we have experienced times like these before and come through positively on the other end. We also know that other people close to us have experienced times like this before and have survived as well. Having this information should be used to reassure ourselves that we can work through another similar situation again – we have done it before, so why can’t we do it again? “You have to allow yourself comfort in the fact that you have been in this particular situation before and allow that to reduce the pressure of the situation and give you confidence to have success, whether you have learnt from previous mistakes or you are repeating past achievements” says Michael Clarke.
Listen to music
“During my time playing for Australia, music was just about the greatest way to calm me before walking out onto the pitch. Music is a distraction from the negative thoughts that would creep into my head, it allowed me to zone out and keep positive by listening to a song that I liked”, says Michael Clarke. Whether you like heavy rock, pop or classical music as a means to do this, as long as it gets the results you need, then listen away.
In high-pressure situations it causes our minds to race and our blood to pump faster, if we just take a minute, physically slow down and breathe, this will help us gain focus, clarity and better enable us to concentrate. “I think the good old saying of taking a breath is underrated, it calms you and gets you ready for the situation at hand,” says Michael Clarke.
Share the pressure
When in a high pressured situation – share the load. Your loved ones are best people to help you through these situations, speak to them about what you are feeling. They can firstly sympathise, and secondly, they can offer you up other solutions you may not have thought about. “No matter who you are or what you have achieved, to have success you can’t do it on your own, you need other people around you through good and bad to give you support, guidance and advice,” says Michael Clarke.