9 Strategies to Help Us Excel in High Pressure Playoff Moments

Leadership Lessons from the Locker Room: Playoffs

in Nov 06, 2019

As leaders, we all want to perform at our best when everything is on the line. We want to show our commitment to our team and not let them down. How do we make it count when it counts the most? Let’s take a look at 9 strategies to help us excel in pressure-filled playoff moments.

9 Strategies to Help Us Excel in High Pressure Playoff Moments

Growing up I was a baseball fan. I collected baseball cards and could recite every stat from my favorite players. As much as I loved playing baseball and trading cards with my friends, I didn’t actually love watching baseball. I found it boring… that is until the playoffs! The playoffs were a completely different story for me. It wasn’t just a meaningless game. Every. Game. Mattered. There was something on the line with every pitch.

Watching these games, I couldn’t help but daydream. I would run this scenario through my head, (said in my best announcer voice) “It’s the bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, and Scotty Cornelius is up to the plate with a full count. The Cubs season comes down to this next pitch. Here comes the pitch… Scotty connects… it is going, going, GONE!” I can’t tell you how many World Series-winning grand slams I have hit in my head.

This childhood fantasy has carried through into how I live my Lifestyle of Leadership and how I embody character and showcase commitment to my team. Let’s dive in!

1. Embrace the Moment

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Billie Jean King. She reminds us that, “Pressure is a privilege.” Embrace every moment of it. You never know how many opportunities you will get like this again. This is your time to go all in and make the most of the situation.

2. Remember Your Why

When everything is on the line, one of the best tools we have is reminding ourselves of our “why.” What motivates us? What keeps us up at night? Simon Sinek is famous for mastering the concept of our “why”. He says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

3. Trust Yourself

Don’t be offended if someone doubts you. The truth is, they don’t know what you know. They don’t know about the early mornings and late nights it took you to get where you are. They have no idea about all of the unseen hours of work it has taken to put yourself in a situation where what you do actually matters. In those moments of doubt – I choose to trust myself – and you should too. We did not get here by accident. You have earned the right to be in the position you’re in and now is the time to act like it. 

4. Enjoy Every Moment

When all is said and done, only one team gets to win their last game. I find that to be a very sobering thought. Make it about more than just winning… enjoy every moment and have good character.

5. Tune Out the Noise

I was reminded recently that there are 7.7 billion people in the world. Which means there are 7.7 billion opinions in the world. Don’t let the opinion of one discourage you. We will always have critics in our life, people who don’t appreciate what we have to offer. Wake up every day and make a choice to… TUNE THOSE PEOPLE OUT.

6. Name Your Fear

Sometimes we have anxiety that stems from us not tuning out the noise. Other times, we don’t even know where it is coming from. This anxiety can turn into unsubstantiated fears. Put a name to those fears and write them down. This will allow you to actually deal with reality. Is this a legitimate fear or something I need to dismiss? Either way, at least now you know and can move forward.

7. Your Best is Good Enough

We can’t always control the outcome, but we can control our effort. At the end of the day, trust the work you have put in and be okay with the result.

8. Develop a Championship Lens

It’s not pressure… it’s a challenge you get to overcome. How you view pressure situations can drastically affect the outcome? It is an honor and privilege to be in situations where what we do matters. Make a choice to see pressure through that lens.

9. Share the Burden

In high-pressure situations, the best gift we have is the people we put around us. Trusted people are our greatest asset. Nothing great is ever achieved alone. Identify the people in your life who you trust, who help you see the world differently and who inspire you to chase your dreams. Those are the people who will help you in pressure situations. Trust them and rely on them.

Whether you’re out in the field or watching from the stands, we all want to be our best. As leaders, we can showcase our commitment to our team and to ourselves when we follow these 9 strategies to excel in pressure-filled playoff moments.

Interested in more Leadership Wins Championships content? Read my 5 Keys to Creating a Confidence-Building & Game-Winning Routine.

Scott Cornelius
Senior Vice President of Leadership Services at | + posts

Scott currently serves as Senior Vice President of Leadership Services at TEAMTRI. As someone who loves to travel, he strives to live his life viewing every person, place and experience as an opportunity to grow as a person and leader. He is committed to helping others do the same by developing their own "leadership lens" to see themselves and others correctly.

Written Scott Cornelius

Scott currently serves as Senior Vice President of Leadership Services at TEAMTRI. As someone who loves to travel, he strives to live his life viewing every person, place and experience as an opportunity to grow as a person and leader. He is committed to helping others do the same by developing their own "leadership lens" to see themselves and others correctly.