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In the world of professional sport and high-level athletic performance…stress sometimes determines winners and losers and separates stars from the superstars. So, what exactly is stress and can we eliminate or control it? Obviously there is a good side to stress, it can push us to higher levels of achievement and performance than we had previously experienced. However, it’s when this stress runs amok, out of control, that it shows it bad side.

The number one cause of stress is worry. There are two main areas of worry that generate the most stress for us. The first area is that we worry about things that have already happened. Things that are in the past. A batter thinks, “the last time I faced this pitcher, he struck me out” Result: fear, sometimes anger, but always stress. The second area is we worry about things that haven’t happened yet. A player wonders, “I sure hope I have a good game today, the whole team is counting on me.” Result: anxiety, fear and, of course, stress.

Living in the past or living in the future, both major causes of performance limiting stress. There is never any pressure in the present. I’ve heard the word WIN broken down this way; doing What’s Important Now, W.I.N. Staying in the present, living in the now is always free from stress.

To be a winner, stay away from the anger generated by what you did or didn’t do in the past and also from the anxiety created from wondering what’s going to happen in the future. The past is over (learn from it), the future will be determined by what you do in the now.

Mack Newton

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