Mental Edge

More Psychology Behind eSports

Three Steps to Handling High-Pressure Situations


A lot of people still find it difficult to wrap their minds around the idea that somebody can make a living with eSports. And for some the concept will remain lost, because how can it possibly require skill to play a video game? In reality, it takes much more than skill to be a star eSport athlete. It also takes a strong mind and even stronger will.


High-pressure is just one of the challenges eSports athletes face, and it can be one of the most dangerous.


The thing that ultimately sets the pro athletes apart from amateurs is their ability to handle pressure when it matters most. In other words, they bring a consistent performance to the table even during intensely competitive tournaments. And it’s understandable why this can be a “make or break” element, for example, all your fallen teammates depending on you to carry them through to the next round, and you’re completely outnumbered. This is not an easy situation and the pressure can get to you. But for some athletes it means breaking out in a cold sweat, nervousness and shaky hands – not the perfect platform for winning.


Get a Handle on High Pressure


Adrenalin is a good thing, especially in a high-speed competition such as eSports. It keeps you alert, awake and aware. But too much of it will get you off balance, taking you past the feelings of self-confidence and into a dark abyss where you can’t think straight. You need to control the adrenalin if you’re going to make it work in your favor.


Step One: Find the Trigger and the Signals


There’s always a trigger for the adrenalin to start rushing, and you need to find them. At what point do you start feeling different? Take notice of your heart rate and the exact point when you start feeling it pumping faster. This is where you find the trigger, along with the signals.


Now, when you find the trigger it doesn’t mean you’ve reached the point of losing control. In fact, it’s the point where you start taking it. If you are able to recognize the intensity building, you are in a better position to make it work for you.


Step Two: Breathe and Empty Your Mind


The more oxygen you can get to the brain the better, so take a few deep and slow breathes, then continue to just breathe normally. Deep and slow breathing brings down your heart rate, even in a high pressure situation. Just a few of them can change your whole perception in a few seconds.


After taking those breathes, try clearing your mind and focus on what’s in front of you. Forget about the people watching, the prize money or anything else distracting. Whatever happens is going to happen, and in a sense you need to accept that.


If you want to practice this step, try training in different surroundings, and not where you’ll typically feel comfortable. Instead, get out of your comfort zone and learn to cut out the drama around you.


Step Three: Execute and Repeat


There’s a perfect balance you reach between relaxation and adrenalin, which makes your mind a very sharp weapon. You know this feeling, but you probably only feel it for a few seconds before the adrenalin takes over.


Your third step is to execute the first two steps, and keep on repeating until you master it. That’s right, the last tip is to actually give it a try a few times and see where it gets you. If you put in enough effort, you’ll notice a big difference very quickly. More specifically, you’ll remain calm under pressure and have much better odds of coming out on the winning side.