Facing the pressure in sports

What makes the pressure in golf so much more intense than other sports is the individual nature of the game. There is no one to blame but ourselves.

Pressure is good for an athlete.  For those who become truly great at their chosen sport, learning how to handle the pressure of a big moment can be all that separates them from those a bit more ordinary.  As good as pressure can be for an athlete, it can be nearly unbearable for the parent of the chosen athlete competing.

I find myself becoming one of those parents having to deal with the pressure of watching their child compete in sports.  My son plays little league baseball, while my daughter competes with a local dance studio.  As they each seem to handle the pressure of their moments with the calm confidence that should make any parent proud, it’s extremely difficult to watch due to my fear of them letting themselves down.

I’m not quite sure how my parents handled those moments watching my competitive golf career for so many years.  Of course, little did I know how nervous my dad must have been watching me stand over a three-foot putt to win a local Junior PGA tournament.  Many of you are likely the same way watching your children compete in various activities, as well.

I suppose what makes the pressure in golf so much more intense than other sports is the individual nature of the game.  We have nobody to blame but ourselves.  Hitting a pressure filled shot in golf is the equivalent of kicking a game winning field goal, or sinking a game winning free throw.  Everything comes down to you.

Watching my son play baseball makes me anxious.

Fortunately, he is only seven and has yet to realize the pressure one should feel during certain moments of a ballgame.  I’ve found myself grieving for him after he strikes out, only to find these emotions calmed upon seeing him immediately go and laugh with his teammates in the dugout.

It’s not that important to him yet, so why should it be for me?

Watching my daughter dance on stage will always make me nervous.  She seems to remain calm, cool and collected performing in front of a packed auditorium.  She has a gift and has never admitted to me about feeling pressure while she is on stage.

I certainly feel it, and I’m sure I always will.

These days, I witness too many examples of parents placing pressure on their children to succeed in their chosen sport.  All you have to do is go to a local driving range and you are likely to see a parent hovering over their child, arms crossed, correcting every little mistake that their child might be making.

It’s not right, and I know that junior golfers struggle because of this pressure being placed on them by their parents.

Pressure in sports can teach us all plenty of lessons.  One lesson I know for sure is that the pressure my children place on me while they are performing is far greater than any amount of pressure I can place on them during those same moments.


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