Tom Brady is arguably the greatest football player of all time. His accomplishments are unmatched. He has won numerous individual awards, such as MVP, as well as team awards. His team consistently plays for championships.
Tom Brady was recently interviewed for an upcoming playoff game and he was asked about whether or not he was nervous. His response was very telling of Brady and his ability to prep for a big game.
He said, “I feel like the more I prepare the less nervous I get.”
It isn’t just Tom Brady who feels that way. Successful coaches have been working hard to instill that same mindset into players. It isn’t just a ploy to get them to work harder at practice; it really does improve performance and help calm pre-game jitters.
The Yerkes-Dodson law states that with a slight increase in anxiety or arousal performance will increase. But as anxiety/arousal grows it starts to slowly reduce performance and ultimately will start to degrade one’s performance.
On the extreme side, the more nervous we are, and the worse we will perform. A little nervousness and we will do better, but if we can’t contain that anxious emotion we will perform worse.
So the key is to be able to get excited for the competition but stay within the optimal range. One way to avoid getting too anxious is to be well prepared. Being prepared helps us to stay focused on what we have to do and gain confidence knowing that we have done the necessary prep work to be able to be successful.
Years ago I was very involved in Toastmasters, the public speaking group. In Toastmasters members give presentations in front of others who provide feedback to help them improve.
For a new member, it is incredibly nerve-racking. Knowing that everyone has his or her eyes and attention on you is difficult. Knowing they are there to judge your performance makes you even more nervous.
But as you do it over and over again, and as you learn to prepare for the speeches, your performance improves drastically. You start to learn how to prepare and get ready for the speech and as you do, you start to gain confidence.
There are many variables to performance but one key aspect is preparation. Preparation helps you to know what to do but it also helps quell nerves so that you can perform in the optimal range.
Tom Brady has been incredibly successful and this quote gets into his thinking around his success. By being well prepared and making sure he prepares as much as possible, he is able to remain calm and perform at the highest level.