I had a chuckle to myself last weekend. I heard the term’ scoreboard pressure’ mentioned several times in different sporting events that took place over the two days. I had visions of scoreboards around the world ganging up on sports competitors and forcing them to make poor decisions and mistakes thus giving these competitors the perfect excuse for their performance. “It was the pressure of the scoreboard that caused it”, “We crumbled under the scoreboard pressure” or “It’s always difficult with scoreboard pressure”.
Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? Actually blaming a scoreboard for your performance as an individual or a team. I’ve begun to feel very sorry for the much-maligned scoreboards who seem to cop the blame for poor performance in sport. They just sit there on the side of the playing area, minding their own business as a person presses some buttons and changes their numbers. It’s not their fault what the numbers say, they’re at the mercy of whoever puts the numbers on them. They have no say and yet get blamed all over the world for the ‘pressure’ that they cause.
Whatever next? We could see people blaming the pitch, the weather, their equipment, the match officials, the fans, teammates, opponents etc. Imagine that!
Scoreboards do not create pressure
OK, let’s get down to it. Scoreboards DO NOT create pressure! They do not have thoughts, feelings or a voice. They don’t whisper in your ear words like, “you’re under pressure!” The so-called pressure comes from within the athlete themselves. It’s their interpretation of the situation they are in and the meaning they attach to it that creates the emotions and physical sensations that we hear referred to as ‘scoreboard pressure’. It’s just an excuse, a fallacy, a myth and bullshit lies that you’re telling yourself that DO NOT help you! The scoreboard is what it is. An inanimate object that has numbers on it. What you make of those numbers is up to you. It’s your choice. Make the choice that helps you!
Athletes that want to pass responsibility for their performance onto the poor scoreboard are showing low levels of control in the mental toughness model. By using an external factor as an excuse for performance, the athlete is attempting to absolve themselves of any ownership for their own outcomes. If they spend more time focusing their attention on factors that they can control, they will recognise what actually happened and then be more aware of what they need to do to improve it.
If this is you, you may want to measure your levels of control by completing the MTQPlus mental toughness assessment. This highly reliable and valid assessment will measure your mental toughness in 8 key areas. This will give you the foundation to start working on meaningful development activities that will really make a difference to you and your performance.
Steve Dent is a Mental Toughness Coach & Trainer, Master Practitioner in NLP, Licenced to administer the MTQ family of assessments and founder of Pro Mind Coaching & Training