Most coaches, managers and athletes believe that playing in front of a large crowd, home or away would automatically impact performance?

With the World Cup and Commonwealth Games 2014 about to start – lets take a closer look?

You train your skills and bodies for thousands of hours; you’re completely confident with the techniques and tactics you’ve mastered. Your repertoire is strong, deceptive and creative. You’ve developed the physicality to stand up to the toughest of opposition. As a team, you’re united, on purpose and up for the competition.

And then?

Come match day, the crowd is roaring, there’s complete frenzy; supporters are loud, excited, and even slightly aggressive for your team to win.

It’s the team meeting, the athletes’ look shaken even stunned, but as an experienced Coach you calmly refer them to the mental skills preparation done earlier. Now’s the time to remain focussed – kick in your pre-match routine to control and manage your gremlins!

The game starts and as the half time whistle blows, you stand in shock; where has all the work gone?

I remember when I was National Coach for Scotland (Netball), we were undefeated, (5 matches), going into the final against Wales, for the 2010 Singapore 6 Nations Cup.

What I witnessed was both disappointing yet intriguing; the performance was like night and day. Our movements were lack lustre and entirely mediocre, we made uncharacteristic mistakes, our synchronicity and timing had vanished and there was no sign of the winning spirit we’d shown previously in the competition.

We lost the final against Wales by three times as many goals as we’d beaten them in the rounds!

Since then, I’ve learned something so incredible; it will change your coaching and performance forever – it did mine!

You see, we wrongly and inadvertently believe that the circumstances on the outside of us, (the raucous home crowd or in my case, a chance of the title), has the power to affect our performance and it doesn’t work that way!

As human beings, we THINK – all day, every day.

Our entire experience as human beings is made up of Thought, without it we wouldn’t have any content to create our unique perspective.

Ever noticed that Thoughts simply pop into your mind at any time, completely random?

We’re not designed to control or manage our thinking. If we were, by now in the 21st century, we’d see high levels of consistency and we don’t!

The expectant home crowd has no automatic mechanism to impact your performance in any way, positive or negative; they’re simply people watching a game.

Can you see?

There is NO inevitability about a condition or circumstance; it isn’t bound to cause you to feel in a particular way. If it did, we’d all feel it the same and every single time, and we don’t!

A shooter or striker has a shot, a golfer their swing, athletes have their own unique skills, practised and perfected and they don’t go anywhere!

When you pay attention to your thinking, your performance suffers. You can’t play your best when you’re distracted by Thought — positive or negative.

When we understand the nature of Thought, we don’t take our thinking so seriously, and can perform in spite of this undesirable mental activity.

There’s no need to go into battle with your thinking, you’re making it up!

As a coach or an athlete, you’re ideal performance state is to have nothing on your mind, totally connected to your intuition and instinct, oblivious to your surroundings – the space we call the Zone.

The next time you feel tight before a competition, or assume something is bound to cause you to feel anxious, or stressed ask yourself – How does that work?

Give yourself a little distance to ask the question, you’ll see there’s no correlation between your thinking and the performance you’ve practised and mastered.

Then, knowing it’s your THINKING in that moment creating the experience, let it fizzle and pop just like a bubble and get on with performing anyway.

Thank you for your intrigue and curiosity, I truly believe that you’re onto to something here. Go ahead and experiment, I’d love to hear how it plays out for you.

Next week, I’ll be looking at the art of playing with absolute freedom, totally involved, with no fear of failure.

Wishing you your best ever performance and life.



PS. If this has ignited a spark in you, please share this post. This work may help someone you care about, play out of his or her skin and bring home an amazing title.