The Situation: Determining or Enhancing

Big game players are the thing of popular legend. Unfortuantely, there are many times that big game players fail to show up during the little games. When all is said and done, that is not terribly impressive stuff.

The athlete that thirsts for the tough opponent and dreams about the championship contest while failing to put a reasonable amount of mental preparation and emotion into regular season contests tends to ride a roller coaster of an athletic career. Perhaps a good way to appreciate this inconsistency and learn to manage it is to understand the role of “the situation.” From the first documented sport psychology experiment in 1898 to the incessant discussion of home field advantage today, “the situation” seems to be an important player in mental toughness and consistency.

The question the athlete striving for greatness must as him or herself is, “Does the situation determine how I play?” Is focus and energy automatically found if the energy of the crowd is good and gravity of the challenge interesting? In such instances one must question the athlete’s ability to control (a.k.a. self-regulate) the mental game in preparation for competition. This also highlights how it may be easy to be off one’s game when the crowd is thin and energy in the building muted. The situation determining one’s mental game likely does not lead to a consistent competitor.

This being said, one would be a fool to disregard the value of a good house (as a musician may say). Standing in the tunnel about to burst into an arena of supportive, loud, and enthusiastic fans can really get an athlete going. The wise athlete however learns not to rely on this energy to lift him or her up. Rather they learn to manufacture focus, energy, and challenge in every situation that they face. It can be tough. It puts a lot of responsibility on the athlete for one’s mental game. It does however lead to big game player night in and night out. The second question an athlete should consider, “Does the situation enhance the quality focus and energy that I bring to the field?”

Find your focus and energy on your own and let “the situation” lift it to the next level now and again.

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