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Big games are here; World Series time. How do you handle the crushing pressure of the big game?
How does a young player deal with the pressure of the big game? Whether it’s the cross-town rival, the play-in game for the championship, or the last game of a best of three tournament; the saliva draining games are tough to manage emotionally. For the young player who has never been to the big game the emotional upheaval can be off-putting to the point of distraction. The word “choked” comes to mind and is a real emotional response to the mind mess we can put ourselves through as we try to excel in the big game. A-Rod is a big time example of a player who doesn’t seem to be able to find that calm spot in his mind when the games get big and the heart rate goes up. As a coach it is my job to monitor players during the big games to make sure the approach is the same, the perspective is maintained, and to keep things light when all around the guys see hype and high expectation. A player needs to see normalcy from his coach when the game expands. The extra crowd, maybe a little red, white, and blue bunting, the national anthem, and a program for sale is not the norm so get their feet back on the ground and go through the normal routine, because inside those guys are a roiling mass of emotional instability. Help the players find the calm inside, keep it light, focused, and routine. The team that manages the energy racing through the dugouts will be the team that generally comes out on top.