WAY TO GO
Call it gamesmanship, one-upmanship or psyching, it is all the same thing says Robert M. Nideffer—pressure. A clinical psychologist at the University of Rochester, Nideffer says pressure is present in almost all sports and that the one good antidote is psyching down. The trouble is, he told Douglas S. Looney of The National Observer, most athletes psych themselves up, and "all this rah-rah stuff is generally bad. Nine times out of 10, the arousal technique generates pressure, and performance suffers."
Psyching down is a matter of relaxing. The question is, how? Nideffer has these suggestions that seem worth trying. They may just help you sink the winning putt on the 18th green, or beat the boss one-on-one at the company picnic (or look for a new job):
Twice a day for 10 minutes, relax the muscles in your forearms, then the biceps, triceps, face, jaw, forehead, neck and shoulders. Breathe slowly. Now rehearse a forthcoming activity—say your backhand before a tennis match. Finally, take a deep breath again and stretch.
Monitor your own feelings and thoughts, your strengths and weaknesses, then work on controlling how you think and feel.
Be open-minded in dealing with pressure. Admit that it is there, think about it, talk to friends about it.
During the contest, do not think of winning or losing but concentrate on your execution and skills.
Try not to expect perfection.
All of which sounds sensible. Even if you don't win, you're going to feel better losing.
TERN FOR THE BETTER
A second or so after his drive off the 4th tee at the JDM Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Jack D. Hill heard a dull thud. He looked up just in time to see a sea gull fluttering to the turf, mortally wounded. Hill finished the hole one over par and was still shaking when the obvious thought hit him: he had gotten a bird and a bogey on the same hole.