As you continue to experience pressure, you begin to understand more and more where your point is. You may discover you can leam to handle 6 out of 10 on an arousal scale, but if you go beyond that and you have not been there before you begin to worry. Then you forget to trust your internal system and focus on external things. Then the arousal state is not functional.
Anderson added that superstars and world-class athletes have learned to perform on an arousal scale of 10 out of 10. They, too, can sometimes choke, but they do it less frequently than their opponents. They learn to trust their performance system under high arousal, and it gives them an added boost. And they learn that their feelings of nervousness are often a good sign, Anderson said.
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Even very young athletes are prone to arousal during competition, says John Anderson.
You only need to watch them come off the field or the court after a match and you see kids crying. There’s a very strong emotional component. Even in T-ball at age six or seven, the kids have a rally, somebody gets a key hit, and they get excited and start cheering and yelling. They get pumped and there’s adrenaline flowing. But the kids on the other team have their heads hanging and they are hitting their gloves against their legs.
The father of a talented five-year-old athlete once came to Anderson to ask his advice about quickly shaping the child into an elite, aggressive athlete. But Anderson told him to let the child have fun, that he was too young to be aroused. And yet, if a child wants to climb the competitive sports ladder as he gets older, he must get used to the feelings of arousal under pressure because it will have a significant effect on his performance. That’s something all serious athletes get to know rather quickly.
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