"I focus on placing a lot of importance on every pitch. I think that's how you have to do it to prepare yourself not only for the playoffs, but definitely getting into the playoffs."
- Royce Clayton
When athletes hear the word playoffs, it tends to get the mind racing. The thoughts include, every game is do or die, there is more meaning behind each moment, more people are coming to watch, and there is a lot of expectation!
Here are the characteristics that help athletes learn to perform in playoff moments, be it the playoff rounds in a tournament, or playing toward a state or national championship.
It’s all about Control:
You don’t get in the zone or in the moment by thinking about the outcome, the success, or the prize.
There are too many variables that go into those thoughts.
The same goes for worry. If you only think about the things that could go wrong and the things you should avoid, there is no room to think about what to do right.
Focus on the little skills and techniques:
For example, the steps or little things you do that get you to hit a golf ball with solid contact, to catch a pass when heavily guarded in lacrosse, or to swim with more efficiency and aerodynamics.
a. It’s the little steps that allow your mind and body to make the connections to perform a particular skill.
b. It’s something athletes should take time to consistently do in practice. It’s how you develop your muscle memory.
c. Your mind memorizes the steps and your body learns which muscles to fire to perform that skill.
As a result, when it’s time to perform in competition, all you have to do is activate your mind and body by focusing on the steps you practiced.
This is how you learn to control the controllables, or things relevant to the task at hand.