Two different personalities prevail in competitive sports: 1. The diligent, hard worker. 2. The person who is loose-as-a-goose. The former is obsessive and driven. He practices skills again and again until he does them correctly. The latter is a cocky competitor who thinks he can do it all.
Most coaches love to work with the first kind - the driven temperament athlete. One problem, however, is that on game day this athlete usually tries too hard and often chokes.
Though cocky athlete may give the appearance that he will pull off a win, because he may lack the foundation of repetitive work, he often is not able to come thorough in the clutch. Nor can he be counted on for consistent performances.
Sports psychologists Bill Moore explains that the arousal levels for practice days and match days should not be the same. It would best if a player's personality were a combination of the two personalities - an ideal balance of someone who is driven on practice day - doing everything possible to polish his skills - and someone who, on game day, is able to approach the competition with a confident attitude. But most athletes tend to be one way or the other.
On game day, it is best to use shots that are your medium risk shots - those with which you are comfortable. Attempting to make high risk shots over and over invites inconsistency.
When preparing for a big match, some sayings to remember are:
"Regular stuff is good enough."
"Try softer, not harder."
"Desire a total release performance more than you desire to win."
Even if an athlete knows what level of emotional arousal produces the best performance, he or she may not be able to compete comfortably at that level. Each athlete must find his or her unique zone of emotional balance for competition.