Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.
- Arnold Palmer
I’ve actually seen athletes perform best in these situations.
There are moments like this when athletes get into the mindset of I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE, therefore I’ll just go out there and play.
As a result, they are relaxed, focused, and played hard.
A college golfer I worked with discussed how she had performed poorly on the front 9. She admitted that she was really nervous going into the final day of the tournament. She was behind by +4 strokes going into the final nine holes. Instead of throwing in the towel, she decided she had nothing to lose. As a result, she was able to just relax and play. Her focus and mantra was to just focus on one shot at a time. As a result, she played her most amazing nine holes of golf and was actually surprised to learn that she had made up the deficit and won the tournament.
In the end, if you focus on the outcome you are going to be distracted by uncontrollable thoughts and expectations, and give up when victory may seem out of reach.
Instead, approach every competition like you have nothing to lose. Leave the need to win, to get recruited, and to play perfect or out of this world, at the door.
One way to do this, as you are putting on your uniform for competition you can shed distracting thoughts and start to get focused on the controllables or things that help you with your performance.
As athletes, you will perform at your best when you just focus on the little things that are relevant to performance, like effort, strategy, skill, accepting and learning from mistakes, and just the thoughts of playing well and having fun.