Performing Under Pressure


It’s something most athletes feel, especially when they’re under pressure.

Hello everyone! I’m Briley Casanova with Complete Performance Coaching. Today, I want to talk to you about dealing with performing under pressure.

Performing Under Pressure


Similar to my last blog post, I wanted to continue discussing the idea of interpreting fear, anxiety, and nerves differently. My goal is to help give you some questions to ask yourself in order to reflect and learn more about yourself so you can address performing under pressure more directly and personally. 

We all can interpret pressure one way or another, but the point is to try to make whatever feeling “under pressure” feels like actually work for us. Personally, I removed myself emotionally from whatever pressure I felt existed leading up to competitions. While that worked for me as an athlete, that might not work for or relate to everyone else.

In the end, we can all reason through questions and thought processes to lead ourselves to getting a better handle on performing under pressure. 


Seeing “Pressure” Differently 

Read through the questions below and answer them honestly and thoughtfully.

Performing Under Pressure – Question #1: If you didn’t have any pressure at all in your life would you honestly still be motivated to perform well?

If we’re being honest with ourselves, probably not. Feeling pressure to perform well is good! It validates your goal to win and be your best. In other words, pressure in this sense is a good thing. It means that you see a greater purpose beyond self-satisfaction to perform and compete. 


Performing Under Pressure – Question #2: Where is the perceived pressure coming from?

Is it you? Your coaches? Teammates? Competition atmosphere?

Remind yourself of what you have in your control: how you interpret pressure. If it’s coming from outside of yourself, then should it have control over you? Probably not. If it comes from inside you, how can you maintain a balance of using “pressure” to motivate you while not letting it overwhelm you?

Like mentioned above, a healthy dose of pressure can be good, but as long as it is coming from within a place of genuine desire to perform/compete at your best, that’s probably a better use of your time and focus. 


Performing Under Pressure – Question #3: Think back to times where you have felt “pressure” before. What were you really most concerned about?

Making mistakes? Not living up to expectations? Not feeling prepared?

Whatever doubts or insecurities were running through your head the most, instead of getting caught up in the feeling of nerves, anxiety, or distraction, think about how to address the actual issue in front of you.

If you’re nervous about making mistakes, what kinds of mistakes are you trying to avoid? How can you prevent those mistakes (more reps, proper technique, imagery/visualization, etc.)?

What do you have control over leading up to the event or in that moment to take an action step to resolve it? How can you plan and feel better prepared for meet day instead of feeling like you didn’t do enough beforehand?

The point of asking yourself all of these questions is to truly get to the bottom of what’s missing and addressing “pressure” directly instead of running away from it.

Plan for the doubt to creep in ahead of time and address what’s missing. If you know yourself well enough to know that you have recurring thoughts of doubt (irrational or not), then you should also know how that you are equally as capable to plan for the lack of preparedness by doing the reps, practicing the right technique. or practicing more imagery/visualization (to name a few examples) ahead of time. Beyond that, the rest is out of your control and therefore should be outside your scope of pressure. 


In addition, here are a few more tips to consider regarding performing under pressure.

Tip #1: Understand that pressure is perceived

Just like stress, we know that a healthy dose of stress/pressure can be good, but it’s also what we do with it moving forward that dictates the end result.

We either give external, perceived pressure the power to own and destroy us or be our reminder that there is greater purpose with feeling pressure. It’s meant to weed out the athletes that can’t handle it. Don’t let perceived pressure win over you.

Pressure doesn’t have to come from our inner doubt. It can be a productive motivator if you decide that it’s going to work for you. You can thrive under pressure! It’s just another game to play in the world of sports.

Everybody deals with pressure every day whether that’s in work, school, relationships and other parts of life. The quicker we can get comfortable with being uncomfortable and anticipating pressure instead of trying to avoid it, the better we can master it. Better to be comfortable with being uncomfortable now than later


Tip #2: Be grateful for the opportunity to be in an environment that breeds competition and success

One affirmation that can help with this is instead of saying “I have to compete (or be in an environment that’s pressurizing),” try saying “I get to compete (or be in an environment that’s pressurizing).” One word can completely change the way we see a pressure-charged situation.  


Performing Under Pressure

I hope these ideas and thoughts guide you through the process of reinterpreting what pressure is.  Seeing pressure as something good or reminding yourself of your agency and control over it can be so empowering. After all: pressure can either burst a pipe or create a diamond.  


Please feel free to reach out to me directly at if you have any feedback or questions about this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy training! 

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.