8 tips from Dave Alred on coping with pressure
As we already know Dave Alred is acknowledged as one of the best kicking coaches and life mentors the sport has ever seen. To be the best in any field takes a relentless drive and application towards continuous improvement. Having taught the likes of Francesco Molinari, Jonny Wilkinson, Luke Donald, and many other world class athletes, Dave Alred has an innate ability to help athletes exceed their own expectations.
A fundamental area Dave Alred believes strongly in, is the concept of continual improvement. He believes you can always get better no matter your age. It’s about creating continuous changes on regular basis which can then form habits and change our cognitive ability to be better. This belief has also been applied to not only athletes, but surgeons, pilots and even dolphin trainers.
Dave Alred the guru on pressure gives his top 8 tips on how we can cope with pressure.
1.Bookmark your successes, not your failures
Many of us fear failure which can knock our self-esteem. Failure is a vital part of learning and progressing. From a child we learn to fail many times before we succeed. When we succeed, we bookmark that moment in our own brain what success felt like. It’s vital we keep trying until we succeed, and this involves committing to a challenge even if we experience failure.
2.Get in the ugly zone
The “ugly zone” is the area outside our comfort zone where improvement happens. We see this in young people who are not preoccupied with failure as they want to improve so they enter the “ugly zone”. It is more common that adults will stay in their comfort zone and that’s why so many people don’t realise their potential.
3. Focus on being better than you were before
Goal setting and knowing where your benchmark lies is a great way for improvement. This way you can track goals and see actual improvements. Children are a great example of bettering themselves as they are better at focusing on self-improvement, rather than comparing themselves to others.
4. Focus on the process, not the outcome
One of the big principles about performing under pressure, is to concentrate on process, says Dave: “If you focus on the process, the outcome looks after itself. If, however, your worry about whether or not you’ll achieve the outcome, it detracts you from the very process of doing it, and that’s where you fall down.”
5. Prioritise your posture
When golfers hit a good shot, they tend to walk with their head up. If they hit a ball badly, their shoulders can fall and they tense up – which then puts them in the wrong state for the next shot. “When anything happens in your life where it doesn’t match your intention, the next event is the most important,” says Dave. And getting your posture right is crucial.
6. Channel Mick Jagger
When you’re giving a presentation or speech keep your head upright, says Dave. Taking control and resetting your posture enables you to pace how you’re talking to your audience. “You’re controlling your body which in turn is controlling you.”
7. “Repair, train and match”
This is a process that can be applied in any pressurised situation, says Dave.
- Repair First, look at technique.
- Train Then we go into training, and that’s the repetition
- Match practice This is preparing for the real deal.
- Fight against “sensory shutdown”
When we’re anxious and under pressure, our field of vision narrows, so we need to try and avoid this “sensory shutdown,”
A fighter pilot’s head is never still. “They’re always taking in what’s around them.” But, when pressure is high, they tend to close down. On top of this, when our adrenaline is up, our peripheral vision narrows. For this reason, a fighter pilot will repeat the mantra: “navigate, communicate, administrate.” This reminds them to look around, constantly communicate (even if just to themselves) and keep looking at their instruments.
The key to avoiding sensory shutdown is “constantly widening your vision,” Dave concludes. “And it’s deliberate practice that helps you do it.”