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Super Bowl - not just for the pros. Four Tips For Winning Your Big Game

Last night was Super Bowl 55 played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Every year we gather to witness to two well-deserved teams fighting it out on the gridiron. It's typically the highest viewed television event of the year, one with the highest paid advertising dollars, and one where we consume the most food and drink (behind Thanksgiving). In other words, the Super Bowl is a big deal.

Regardless of whether you're a part of the team, a fan of the team, a fan of sport, or a casual observer, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest events of the year. With it can come feelings of anticipation, curiosity, anxiety, joy, and yes, even sadness. And though many of us watch as external observers of the Super Bowl playing out in front of us, we too have our own individual Super Bowls that we have the opportunity to encounter throughout our lives. Whether that's a big job interview, an audition, a proposal, childbirth, a keynote, or a championship event, we all have our own versions of a Super Bowl. Those moments in our lives that are as life/career defining as they are nerve wracking. One's that we have prepared our entire careers, relationships, or lives for. Yes, our SUPER BOWL moments

And just like the players on the field and the coaches and staff on the sidelines experience an array of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we too experience this same array when we encounter our Big Games. And though those teams likely have access to sport psychologists, mental performance consultants, and other mentors to help them manage the mental, emotional, and physical realities of performing on such a huge stage....keep in mind, you do too. And I'm happy to help ya out.

Let's take a look at some key considerations the next time you have SUPER BOWL in front of you.

4 Tips For Winning Your Own Super Bowl:

  • Prepare yourself
  • Harness your energy
  • Enact your role
  • Accept your nerves

Prepare yourself

Remember when you were a kid and you studied super hard for that spelling test? Then when you finally sat down to recall those words, you felt a tinge of swagger with every letter that you wrote knowing that you took the time to study and prepare yourself for the task at hand.

As such, whenever we are in a demanding performance situation, we can increase our confidence in the task by adequately preparing for it. This preparation could involve years of training or something as simple as an hour review of an organization's website that you are applying for. Regardless, great performers do their homework, trust their abilities, which increases their confidence.

Question:

  • What purposeful preparation do you need in order to feel more confident going into YOUR Super Bowl?
  • Consider any mental, physical, technical, or strategic preparation that might benefit your performance.

Harness Your Energy

Whenever we encounter a highly demanding situation, it is critical for us to possess the energy level necessary to meet those demands. In sport and performance psychology we call this one's ideal performance state. There are times when we need to be relaxed and there are times when we need to be more pumped up. For each person and in each performance endeavor the ideal performance state could be different. However it is safe to say that being way too relaxed or way too pumped up is not ideal. As such, it is likely that your ideal performance state is either slightly more relaxed, a little more energized, or somewhere in the middle. Knowing your performance state and how to harness it is a paramount skill that high performers are able to enact.

Question:

  • What is your ideal performance state? Do you prefer to be energized? Or do you prefer to be more relaxed?
  • How can you harness your energy to be more relaxed? Tips: deep breathing / slowing down / relaxing phrase
  • How can you harness your energy to be more energized? Tips: pump up music, physical movement, power phrase

Enact Your Role

Great performers also focus on those things that are actually critical to their performance. They don't worry about things outside of their control or concern themselves with things that don't directly impact their performance. For instance, Tom Brady isn't concerned with the refs, or the fans, or even the weather. What he is concerned about is knowing the play, reading the defense, and executing his quarterbacking skills. We need to do this in our performances as well.

Question:

  • What are they essential ingredients of your performance? In other words, what are the actions or mental processes you need to execute in order to perform successfully?
  • What aspects of your performance do you have control over? What aspects of your performance do you not have control over?

Accept Your Nerves

Finally, all of the performers in Sunday's Super Bowl likely had some type of feeling. Maybe they were nervous, hyped up, or even felt a little lethargic, uncertain, or doubtful. All of these reactions are completely human, especially in a high performance situation. I like to look at these human responses as psychological sweat.

Let me elaborate.

Anytime we exercise we put our bodies in a high demanding situation.  As a result, our bodies sweat. It is a natural byproduct of stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves, and putting increased physical demands on ourselves. The same thing happens in highly psychological demanding situations. Here though, instead of our body sweating (though it might), our brain sweats. We have accompanying anxiety, critical thoughts, and even doubt. All of these can be considered a natural byproduct of putting ourselves in a challenging performance situation that we care about. In other words, psychological sweat. The goal here is to simply accept it as such. We don't have to change it. We don't have to fight it. We simply have to acknowledge and accept it for what it is...which is psychological sweat.

Question:

  • What are the symptoms of your psychological sweat? When you are in a high performance situation, what thoughts, feelings, and behaviors tend to show up when you are in a challenging position?
  • What reminder do you need to give yourself that this is psychological sweat?

 

Final Thoughts:

There you go, the big moments in life are not just reserved for professional athletes. We all have them. And often they are those moments that elicit tremendous vibrance in our lives. A chapter in our stories that make the book one hell of a good read. It's these moments that are memorable at least and soul shaping at most. And the next time you encounter one, lean in and leverage the lessons above. No the nation isn't watching, the advertisers do not care. But it's your Super Bowl. How will you play?

Next Steps:

Got a Super Bowl coming up? Performance coaching can help you as you approach your big game. Though the skills listed above are critical to managing your big game, there are others too. And I am happy to be a resource for you to help you discover and apply your inner MVP. It's game time.

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