Can You Handle It?
Pressure. It’s the silent killer of our best day on the disc golf course. All the preparation and practice in the world can be crushed by the mounting tension placed on us by a tough opponent, a close tournament round, or the self induced stress of trying to beat our personal best score on our home course.
Many top pros have made the observation that what separates the winners and the losers of major tournaments is the ability to handle stress. All of them have a very similar level of skill. It’s what they do with it under pressure that determines how they score.
That’s all well and good, but how exactly do we learn to deal with pressure out on the course? It’s not like there is a field work drill designed to deal with competition related stress. What are those of us not named McBeth supposed to do? One possible answer lies on the basketball court.
Jordan Has the Answer.
Michael Jordan will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes of all time. When people argue that LeBron or Kobe are better players, they are missing some key facts about Jordan. First, he was 6 for 6 in championship series. If he was there, he won. Second, he never needed a game 7. Third, he took almost two years off and came back as good as when he left.
Yeah, Jordan was a bad ass on the basketball court. You youngins who never got to see him play in his prime just don’t understand. No one is even close.
One of his greatest skills was that not only did he perform under pressure, he thrived in it. Pressure actually made him better. I always wondered how he did that. I’m very jealous. Today, I heard a big part of the answer.
Tim Grover was Jordan’s personal trainer. Kobe Bryant is quoted as saying “Tim Grover knows more than anyone about the mental side of sports”. That’s one heck of a compliment. Today, on the way to work, I was listening to Grover being interviewed. That’s where I heard him talk about how Jordan did so well under pressure. MJ didn’t see pressure as a burden, he saw that “pressure is a privilege”. (Definitely listen to that interview, it’s fascinating all the way through!)
Grover is the author of a book I’m about half way through right now. It’s called “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable“. It’s really, really good. Grover was Jordan’s personal trainer. He coached him on the mental side of the game as well as the physical. I can think of few better people to get insight into dealing with pressure and stress in competition from than these two.
Grover and Jordan both see pressure as a compliment. The only reason you are under pressure in the first place is because you put yourself there with a top notch performance. Why are you in the final 9 of a tournament? Because you played well enough to be there. Why are you the point person on a big project at work? Because your boss recognized your abilities and put you there.
This concept is totally freeing. It’s a complete mindset shift. It allows you to see pressure as only existing because you are the one that can handle it! If you couldn’t, you wouldn’t be under it in the first place. Welcome it. Embrace it. Prove why you deserve it in the first place. Pressure is a privilege.
Disc Golf Under Pressure
Pressure is a mental component of the game of disc golf and of life. It starts in your head, so it only makes sense that it should end in your head. How you look at pressure and how you let pressure effect your confidence is totally under your control. The reason it negatively effects so many people is because they look at it as a bad thing. They see it as something to be fought and overcome.
Jordan didn’t fight or try to overcome pressure. He welcomed it. He looked at it as a sign that he was doing things right. He was totally at home in pressure packed situations. According to Grover, we can learn to be that way too.
The next time you find yourself buried under a mountain of pressure on the disc golf course, stop and think about this point. Stop and realize that you are there because you deserve to be. You are there because you are good enough to handle it. You’re there because no one else deserves that spotlight. The pressure you are under is a privilege. Say thank you and enjoy it. Who knows, you could become the next Michael Jordan of disc golf!
You know what has no pressure at all? A subscription to this blog. Every week we’ll send you a stress free newsletter full of disc golf goodness that you won’t see anywhere else. Plus we’ll send you links to all of our posts for that week. That takes all the pressure off of you and puts it on us. Why? Because we deserve it, we’re that good!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”