The Art of Choking

Published by Dodsy.

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What is pressure?

Sometimes it is easier to succeed than to fail. Time and again teams pull off the impossible and put themselves in a position of unthinkable glory, within reach of success. All they have to do is the same thing they have been doing. Win. Simple right? Almost easy. Except for one thing: pressure.

The invisible force that reminds us, at the most inopportune time, that we are fallable. That we can fail, and if we were to do so, it would be horrendous. Some people thrive under it, others forget the basic skills – like passing a ball in a straight line – they have known since childhood.

It is almost impressive. Some would call it an art form.

Watching Liverpool drop yet more vital points at Goodison Park, along with the gradual demise of Tottenham’s title chances brought back some memories. Like the infamous Gerrard ‘slip’ the last time Liverpool were this close. Like the 12-point lead Newcastle threw away in the 1995-6 season. Or perhaps in 2003, when Real Madrid managed to choke so hard that they fell from first place with a 8-point lead and 12 games to go, all the way down to fourth.

Please don’t think I am judging these failures. If choking really is art then I am Van Gogh. When I was a child, I was never very far from being good at tennis. Through luck and persistence my school made it through to a prestigious tennis tournament, held at Eton School. Through a lack of better options, I was in the first pair for my school and given the honour of serving first. In the two minute warm-up that preceeded the first game, I happened to look up at the hundred or so family and friends in the crowd. And sat up with them in the stands, was my old acquaintance, Pressure. As I threw a practice serve up, I missed. Not the box, but the actual ball. Something I had done from the age of four was now as alien as figure skating. Needless to say, we didn’t win.

Please don't think I am judging these failures. If choking really is art then I am Van Gogh. Click To Tweet

The hard part for Liverpool and Tottenham isn’t playing consistently impressive football; we know they can do that. It isn’t even performing in front of 50,000 desperate fans. It is fighting the invisible tyrant, the impossible monster, my old friend from the stands.

Find a way of doing that, and they may avoid entering the history books for all the wrong reasons.

 

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Shin Pads & Angry Dads

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