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How to EASILY Handle Pressure (The Illusion of Pressure In Hockey)

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All the best athletes in the world get nervous before big games.

Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

They all feel pressure when the world is watching.

You are not alone when you feel pressure.

But here’s what might be different between you and the top performers in hockey.

The best players get better when the pressure is on.

That's why they are the best players.

When games become more ‘important’, the best players rise and show they are the best.

So how can you become someone who rises to the top when the pressure is on?

In this article I want to reveal the deeper truth behind dealing with pressure.

I will show you how to enter every big game focused and calm like a navy seal.

This doesn’t mean you will not feel nervous.

Instead, it means you will be able to see that nervousness and fear are only emotions that come and go.

They are like waves in the ocean rising and falling, but you remain calm like the water below.

You ready? Let’s dig in.

What Is Pressure?

Let’s start with understanding what we are talking about when we say pressure.

Here is the best definition I have found: “Psychological pressure: is the psychological stress associated with expectations to perform well in a situation. - Pressure. (n.d.). In's online glossary. Retrieved from:

We have set an expectation and now we have created pressure (in our mind) to fulfil those expectations.

The reason you struggle under pressure is because you fear failure.

This idea of failure comes from failing to maintain our Identity (who we believe we are).

So if we believe we are a great hockey player, then we fear anything that may challenge that.

We fear:

  • Mistakes

  • Losing

  • Looking bad

If these begin to happen to us, we start to question how good we are.

This then influences us to play worse, which makes us question ourselves more.

The spiral begins...

It’s All In Your Head

This is the main thing I hope you learn from studying my work: it's all a mental game.

Life and hockey are all a mental game.

The mind instructs the body either consciously or unconsciously.

The mind's job is to try and make sense of a very complex world and then tell your body what to do.

It’s all happening in your head.

This is also the case with pressure.

The idea of pressure is a construct in your mind.

You may argue “everyone agrees game 7 of the stanely cup finals is a high pressure situation”.

They all made that up in their head too.

We make up the meaning of everything in our heads as humans.

It’s all a made up story of meaning.

Our minds are meaning generating machines.

This will never change, so it's best to embrace it rather than fight it.

Learn to work with the machine and get the most out of it.

The Pill For Dealing with Pressure

I want to let you in on a secret that will change your whole life.

But I can only let you in if you agree to really listen to what I am about to say.

You will want to disagree with me so badly.

But I promise this truth will set you free.

Here it is:


I know what you are thinking.

“What the hell is this guy talking about? He’s crazy, of course there is meaning behind things and of course things matter.”

Well here’s the thing, I am not questioning if you think these things.

I am stating that at a root level we just make up the meaning of things.

We decide that hockey is important because we grew up playing and our family loves it, and you love it.

But there are other people who say football is the most important, or basketball, or cricket.

Everyone is simple adding their own values to the world.

So when you go into a big game and feel fear, it’s important to zoom out and remind yourself that this is not the end of the world.

Here is a frame I like to use when I am feeling the pressure of the moment.

The Alien Filter

When you are feeling very nervous or scared of a big game.

Imagine for a second that you are an alien in a space ship flying down in a saucer and watching the game from a distance.

Imagine you had never seen hockey or sports before.

What would you be saying to yourself?

I would probably be saying what the hell are they doing?

Why are they smacking a rubber disk around?

Why do they care so much about this still game?

What’s the point of slapping that rubber disk into the mesh net?

Now zoom back into where you are at the rink.

Notice how your perspective has changed?

Notice how silly it now seems to be so emotional and scared to do this thing?

Now suddenly you can go have fun because you realize this is not life or death.

You can now give yourself permission to relax.

Another Reframe that might help is the 10,000 year frame.

The 10,000 Year Frame

The idea with this frame is to change your perspective like the Alien frame did.

I want you to ask yourself if anyone will care in 10,000 years from now about this game?

Even if it’s a stanley cup game.

The answer should always be no.

The majority of the world barely even cares about what you are doing now.

So why stress yourself to tears over this?

Why put yourself through that pain?

Instead embrace the moment.

Let go of the need to acheive something because in 10,000 years no one will give a sh**.

And most people won’t even be worried tomorrow.

You will feel the pressure lift off and you can then give yourself permission to enjoy the moment instead of fearing it.

Your Reality In Yours To Construct

I want to wrap this letter up with this.

I always thought that pressure was this thing that existed out in the world like a heavy blanket that smothered me whenever a big moment arose.

It felt just as real as the ground beneath my feet.

Because I saw it that way, it was real.

I have learned that in life reality is moldable.

You can see the world as the land of opportunity, or the land of danger.

You can see your hockey career as exciting or just a endless land of pressure.

These are all just lenses we see the world through.

You can learn to try differnt lenses on.

Build Your Game

You can learn to set new rules for how the world.

So even if other people see pressure as a problem, you can see it is as fun.

If people say you need to score goals to have fun, you can have fun being a shut down guy.

You can set your own goals that excite you and then chance them.

And you can also realize this is just a game you CHOSE to play.

So choose to have fun with it.

Choose to make the most out of it.

It’s your game in your head.


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Who is Corson Searles?

I am a former player & mental/performance advisor for AAA, junior, college, and pro hockey players. I am obsessed with dissecting atheletic performance potential, lifestyle design, and hockey development.


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