Performing under pressure – How to manage nerves & sweat!

Performing under pressure – How to manage nerves & sweat!

  • Read Time 2 min read
  • Date May 24, 2022
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Are you the type of person who sweats profusely under pressure? Be it a first date, job interview or going up a weight to push for a PB?

You find yourself secreting more fluids than normal, leaving giant sweat marks & adding more stress to an already uncomfortable situation!

It is common knowledge that stress, anxiety & embarrassment release hormones that make you sweat, especially in the larger apocrine glands found in the groin & armpits. So how do high performers like Ronaldo, Simone Biles or Brene Brown seem so cool & calm in arenas where the stakes are super high & you’d expect nervous sweating to be rife?

A recent article by Dane Jensen from the Harvard Business school found that pressure is a function of three things:

  1. The importance of a situation’s outcome

  2. The uncertainty of the outcome

  3. The volume of tasks, decisions and distractions surrounding the outcome

Knowing these 3 impacting factors means you can train yourself to deal with or normalise pressure, because sometimes pressure helps you grow in the most meaningful way & is vital to learn or improve.

Having perspective on the importance of a situation’s outcome is key. Of course you would get overwhelmed if you focused on the millions of people watching you take a penalty to win the World Cup, with scoring resulting in national accolades & missing bringing years of being vilified. However, what if you reframed the moment & focused your thoughts only on breathing, the ball & the goal, as well as the family & friends who love you regardless of this one moment? All of a sudden it’s a more manageable task. 

How do you make an uncertain situation more certain? Practice & simulation. The greats of the game don’t just rock up once & expect things to magically happen. They build the reps consciously & continuously, even when they’re near perfection. Evaluating & learning at each step. Your first ever date would be hideously stressful & sweaty, but your 20th first date would see you sat with 19 similar experiences that you’ve worked through and evolved from, so you have that confidence and reassurance that you’ll be ok at the very least!

It totally makes sense that volume of tasks & distractions that surround performance can dramatically increase pressure. This is why athletes, CEO’s or high performers lives are made incredibly simple to reduce the number of things that can influence their decision making at crucial times. Kit being cleaned & laid out, pre-match meals expertly prepared for their energy needs, perfect set ups for sleep, training & recovery. All to reduce unnecessary stress & anxiety around the individual.

Consider your own life & the situations that evoke stress, nerves & anxiety. What can you do to help yourself grow in these times, rather than avoid these moments all together?