8 Ways to Stay Cool Under Pressure

Nikkiann and I just got back from Honduras on the quest to find more herbs to help energize the body and improve athletic performance.  We found some great herbs and we also found ourselves in a couple precarious situations going through the Honduran Jungle.  When I say precarious I mean like damn how did we end up here…

Making it through these precarious situations required the ability to stay cool under pressure.  A VERY VALUABLE SKILL!

I believe being able to stay cool under pressure is the #1 Meta skill you can have in this World.  So while this article may not directly have to do with athletic performance I think that there is no better skill for you to develop.  This applies when competing in sports, it applies when working in business, it applies when going to school and it applies in survival situations like in our specific case when we accidentally went off trail during a hike in the Honduran Jungle.

This is how Josh Waitzkin describes the ability to stay cool under pressure in his book the Art of Learning, “In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present, cool under fire is what separates the best from the mediocre.”

So how do you stay cool under pressure?  Before we answer that question we need to answer the question of why we lose our cool in the first place.  Why do we Choke when things matter most?


When athletes think about themselves screwing up, they are more likely to do so.” Sian Bialock

In the sports world the ability to not stay cool under pressure is usually defined as Choking. Sian Bialock is one of the World’s leading researchers studying the science of optimal performance.  This is how Bialock defines Choking in her book Choke:  “But first, what is choking exactly? Choking under pressure is poor performance that occurs in response to the perceived stress of a situation. Choking is not simply poor performance, however. Choking is sub-optimal performance. It’s when you—or an individual athlete, actor, musician or student—perform worse than what you have done in the past. This less-than-optimal performance doesn’t merely reflect a random fluctuation in skill level—we all have performance ups and downs. This choke occurs in response to a highly stressful situation.”

Choking is basically poor performance that occurs in response to the perceived stress of a situation.  This is why I believe staying cool under pressure is a Meta-Skill because we don’t ever want to let the perceived stress of a situation impact us in a way that hurts performance. 


When worries flood the brain, whatever these worries may be, they deplete working-memory resources that would otherwise be available and your performance can suffer.” Sian Bialock

According to Bialock we Choke because we worry, “People choke under pressure because they worry.  They worry about the situation, its consequences, what others will think.  They worry about what they will lose if they fail to succeed and whether they have the tools to make it.”

Now that we know why so many humans fail under the bright lights let’s discuss how we can make sure that it is not us.  Again, I believe staying cool under pressure is a skill so just reading this article will not help.  You gotta train and put in the work!


1) Practice under Pressure.  Practicing under the types of pressure that you are likely to face in a real life situation or in an important game helps to ensure high levels of performance when it really counts.  PRACTICE A TON, UNDER PRESSURE!

2)  Meditation.  I have been meditating for 13 years and when it comes to helping you control your mind I believe that there is no better training. A major component to staying cool under pressure is controlling your mind.   If you don’t have meditation as part of your daily practice then I highly recommend that you run the experiment and try it out for a few days.  Start small and try for 2-3 minutes.  It's really important that we understand that thinking is a habit, and like any other habit, it can be changed; it just takes effort and repetition.  Meditation is training to help us do that. 

3)  Stay calm (use humor and/or fear to focus).  Too much emotion during pressurized situations is not helpful.  Yeah, we all feel butterflies but we want to get all of those butterflies flying in the same direction.  No matter how big the situation is its never too big to make a joke and change the energy. 

4)  Take Decisive Action.  The fastest way to stop worry is to get into flow.  The fastest way to get into flow is to take aggressive action. Taking action gets us to stop thinking and start doing.  There is a major difference between positive thinking and positive action and we want to make sure we are engaging in both.  But!  This is why our level of training is so important because training maximizes the probability that we are making the right decision when we take forceful action.  

5)  Our Body is Feeling This Way to Help Us Win.  The physical symptoms of fight or flight are what the human body has learned over thousands of years to operate more efficiently and at the highest level.  When we feel butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms and cottonmouth we need to understand that it is our body preparing us to perform at our highest level.  Anxiety and Worry are just our interpretations of those feelings.  The next time you feel any of the above symptoms get EXCITED!

6)  Believe that You Will Succeed!  Develop a deep conviction that you’ll perform well.  Peak Performers and those that stay cool under pressure have a resolute state of mind that nothing is impossible.  Of course we want to understand that confidence is not a guarantee of success but it is a pattern of thinking that increases the likelihood of success. 

7)  The Win is in the Rep!  Fortunately 99% of the situations that we face day to day are not going to be life or death.  Yeah, we might lose the competition or we might not get the deal but we will live to survive another day.  Because of this we want to focus on taking the above actions and then celebrate the fact that we are putting in the work and training ourselves on how to stay cool under pressure. 

8) Take our SuperAthlete Athlete Anxiety Formula.  While I am a huge believer in prioritizing our biology and training to achieve peak performance, getting some help from a supplement always helps.  Our Athlete Anxiety Formula contains a perfect combination of Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Chamomile, Lemon Balm and Passion Flower to help you enter into a chill state that will help you take control of your mind as needed. 

Staying cool under pressure is a meta skill that can help you in almost any situation.  And just like any other skill it is a skill that can be developed.  Comment below if you feel like there are any things that I missed but to conclude I believe that the bottomline is this.  If we can manage to interpret our bodies response to the pressurized situation as a positive, as a call to action then we will be in a really good place to thrive.  This can only though if we put in the work.  You got this, let’s go!


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