One of the major reasons I play tennis – besides the fact that I love to hit things very hard – is to learn how to “rise to the occasion.” Kobe Bryant hitting the last shot in a playoff game, Reggie Jackson hitting a homer in the playoffs. This is a life skill I would love to develop.
Last night I was reading an article discussing statistical refutation of the generally accepted idea that there is such a thing as a clutch hitter. Statistics indicate that baseball players may do well hitting in pressure situations for one year, but over their career, their average in pressure situations is similar to their average in other at-bats.
This clarifies a very important idea. It is expressed in the book With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham, my little bible of mental practice. Lanny Bassham had a very successful career in Olympic and World Championship pistol shooting. Probably one of the most mental of sports. The idea is to develop clock-like consistency and to approach each shot with exactly the same preparation. In this sense, the idea of “rising to the occasion” means to be able to execute your shots with the same consistency no matter how important the point. “Rising to the occasion” may mean simply doing what you always do instead of raising your game.