Former Super Bowl MVP Offers Tips On Thriving In High-Pressure Game

As Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers prepare for Super Bowl XLV, the two starting quarterbacks are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Anticipation, anxiety, and excitement are just a few of the feelings they must deal with as the big game quickly approaches.

Roethlisberger has been in this situation before, guiding the Steelers to two Super Bowl championships. Rodgers, one would think, would have a more difficult time trying to put aside the added scrutiny, distractions, and immense pressures during the days and hours leading up to America’s most revered sports spectacle.

One quarterback who could advise Rodgers on how to successfully manage his emotions is Phil Simms, who led the New York Giants to a victory over John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Simms still holds the Super Bowl completion percentage record after connecting on 22 of 25 passes en route to being named Super Bowl XXI MVP.

“Early in my career I had read many accounts of quarterbacks saying that the Super Bowl game was so big that they could not settle down until the second quarter of the game,” Simms said. “They had a difficult time remembering and focusing on the plays that they ran during the first quarter. And as I read those accounts I recall thinking, ‘If I ever get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, I am not going to waste 25% of that game just trying to settle down.’

“In the two weeks leading up to that game in January 1987, I thought to myself many times, ‘I am not worried about the outcome. I am going to be aggressive and confident in my thinking.’ I remember thinking, ‘I am not afraid to fail.’ Having that mindset just kept me loose and confident leading up to and through the entire game. As I look back over my career, I have often thought, ‘Why didn’t I approach more games like that, or really, why didn’t I approach all my games like that?’”

Simms’ revelation about his mental focus and preparation appears in the foreword he wrote for the forthcoming Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life, published by Fitness Information Technology (FiT). Written by former Olympic rower and America’s Cup sailor Dr. Amy Baltzell, Living in the Sweet Spot provides a fresh look at the integration of sport psychology and positive psychology and gives readers expert guidance as they prepare for life’s big performances.

“As I look back, I realize just how powerful your mind can be when it comes to athletic performance,” said Simms, who is now a lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports. “But I didn’t have a book like Living in the Sweet Spot to help me develop consistency in using my mind to help produce great performances.”

Another former NFL quarterback has found the information presented in Living in the Sweet Spot to be useful in his new position as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, whose home stadium will serve as the site of Super Bowl XLV.

“I’ve always been interested in how to perform better—for myself and now for our players,” said Jason Garrett in his testimonial for the book. “Performance at the highest level is always a challenge. This book provides some excellent practical ideas of how to achieve and sustain high levels of performance from the psychological perspective.”

Simms and Garrett are joined by several other prominent athletes, coaches, musicians, and psychologists who either offer testimonials for Living in the Sweet Spot, or whose experiences, struggles, and subsequent victories over mental obstacles are detailed by Baltzell. A licensed psychologist and professor at Boston University, Baltzell serves as a consultant to many elite athletes and musicians and has been featured in interviews both locally in Boston and nationwide on programs such as CBS Sunday Morning.

“The focus of this book is about how to create and use your habit of positive emotion and focus to prepare for such high-pressure performance moments so you can thrive under pressure,” Baltzell said.

Click here for more information on Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life or to order an advance copy of the book.


One Response to Former Super Bowl MVP Offers Tips On Thriving In High-Pressure Game

  1. coreypreece says:

    Really interesting. I really think people think about the alternative to success, failure, so much that they fail…that’s why I like the quote “I was not afraid to fail.”

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