In honor of March Madness NCAA Basketball Championship Game Day (Men’s and Women's) is a grade eight short speech written about the pressure of an athlete from a 13 yr. old girls perspective. As a parent of a child who has encountered obstacles and social interference about her basketball dreams and aspirations she stays strong and determined. The RISE (Realize Individual Success Everyday) Centre is a vision and concept many high-level sport professionals have embraced. McMaster University Athletes Edge will train our athletes at a level proven for success. The RISE will give extraordinary athletes learning opportunities through The Hill Basketball Academy to flourish and guide in their athletic endeavours. I am very proud of Aerial Wilson’s perspective of life on and off the court. I hope you too enjoy how this young lady is dealing with the “PRESSURE” to pursue her basketball dreams.
by Aerial Wilson, March 01-2015
Small. Misshapen. Insignificant. A lump of coal! Ordinary, yet extraordinary, but what happens once it is under pressures of 725 000 pounds per square inch? What happens to a black piece of rock that does well under pressure? It becomes a diamond.
The most beautiful things are created from pressure, like us as individuals. Some can thrive under pressure and some of us will bow down and succumb to it. Those of us, who have the right mentality, come out of the fire as diamonds. They’re the peak performers that not only have trained and worked hard, but won't crumble when the time approaches to make their dreams come true. They can perform in high-pressure situations without surrendering to their doubt demons. They’re the one’s titled “Most Valuable Player”, the one’s who hit the game-winning buzzer beater shots, they’re the clutch players who can play and push through adversity. They’re the ones who attack life as a challenge, not a threat.
We all choke, but what separates two people with the same skill set is how they perform due to pressure. What’s your skill worth if you can never use it when it matters? You can have all the talent in the world but if you can’t use it in a game, it’s worthless. Pressure is always viewed as a negative, but that is just a mental roadblock keeping you from peaking. You can perform either 15% worse or 15% better under pressure. Those who are successful feed off the pressure to maximize their full potential, but in order to perform with more proficiency you must have a positive mindset. It is a proven fact that those who face high-pressure situations with a challenge state have blood flow more efficiently to their brain allowing them to have control over their thoughts and emotions. Where when we approach the same situations with a threat state our blood vessels constrict, causing us to cease up, hindering our ability to think and therefore perform at our best.
Nausea, sweaty palms, dry-mouth, about to throw up any second. I’m sure we’ve all felt it. Sure it’s because I’m nervous, but what’s there to be nervous about it’s just another game, I’ve played amazing on countless occasions before, I’m a good player. If I go out there and play a terrible game or lose it’ll be okay. Worst-case scenario: I’ll go home and sleep. No. I’m older now, and getting exposure, I have to play well in practice to get playing time and prove that I’m the best on the court. I can’t have a slump, because you never know who’s watching. It could be scouts, the team Ontario or Canada coach, or anyone who wanted to watch our game because they’re recorded. I want to do well so badly, I want to get noticed, want to play my best; I have to play my best. Every game is big and championships even bigger. Everyone watching. I have one opportunity to make it happen. One shot.
All of the pressure I’m feeling right now is a good thing. It’s making me work harder to get where I want to be. I am the only one putting pressure on myself because I have expectations. If I feel that something isn’t the best I can make it, then I’ll do even more to make sure that it is and I’m rarely satisfied. The added pressure can be overwhelming, but I will always resist the temptation to give up because the pressure I’ve put on myself is my motivation.
What do we think when a coach yells, “Put pressure on the ball.” Get up, get low and play defense. Don’t. Let. Them. Breathe. Chances are if you do that the other team will have a pretty hard time scoring, yet they may have one player that can play with the added pressure. If it were easy everyone would do it. That’s the difference: under pressure your true character is revealed. It defines you as a person. It will either make or break you. The ones who won’t panic, won’t fear, and won’t settle are the successful people in life. Although we see pressure as a bad thing it is actually good. It is an opportunity to rise. Not just to be seen as someone who can play, but as someone who can think. It forces us to attack life with a challenge mindset that only allows positive thoughts. No more, “Don’t miss,” only, “It’s going in.” And even if that shot somehow misses, keep your head up, hustle, and know it’s O.K to fail, but you better make sure that next time you have an opportunity that you take it. No pressure.