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If you have ever competed at anything, you have heard or thought “don’t choke”.

But have you ever considered what choking is or why it happens?

Choking is not missing the game winning shot. That happens to the best around.

Choking is the failure to perform a process or task that you normally do automatically.

Choking happens when your mind turns against your body in a crucial situation. You choke when you fail to cope with the anxiety and stress in an important situation and your overthinking causes a catastrophic drop in your performance.

No one wants to choke. Here are three things you can do to be your best when your best is needed.

Trust Your Process

Important, high stress situations cause your heart to beat faster, your palms to sweat, and your muscles to tighten up. If you want to survive these situations without choking you must have a process to deal with the stress and move on without letting it take over their performance.

The worst thing you can do is speed things up in an attempt to get out of the situation in a hurry.

Instead of rushing when you feel the pressure go up, take a step back and slow things down. Focus on your routine and mechanics.

Your process got you to this point. It is time to trust it.

Don’t Turn One Mistake into Two

Choking often happens when your mind creates a scenario that doesn’t really exist. It is common for average performers to take a previous mistake and project those same results onto future actions.

Elite performers don’t think this way. You shouldn’t either!

Instead of wondering what will happen if you mess up again, put your energy into staying in the moment. Analyze your mistake, pick out the important information,  then flush it out of your mind and move on.

The most important step is the next step. What has already happened and what might happen later doesn’t matter. What matters is right here, right now!

Embrace the Butterflies

Performing at an elite level requires strong mental effort and concentration, but what happens when your conscious mind doesn’t trust your subconscious mind? You’ve got a problem. That’s what!

All performers have anxiety and doubt. If you don’t feel the pressure in important situations, you need to find something else to do.

Train yourself to embrace the butterflies in your stomach instead of fearing them. They are a sign this performance means something and you are ready to go.

Consistency Connection: All performers feel the pressure and anxiety that comes with an important situation. If you want to perform your best in these situations, embrace the butterflies, stay in the moment, and trust the process that got you there. This is your chance to prove you can handle it when it matters.

Yancey Sanderson
Follow me on Twitter @YanceySanderson

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