“Footballers are always required to solve tactical problems and make decisions under pressure. This requires significant amounts of brainpower, which we only have limited resources of – like a battery.
Unfortunately the brain interprets the heart beating quickly as potential danger. Under pressure it doesn’t think or problem-solve in meticulous detail; it just reacts to the moment, which is bad for performance.
Players need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, so that they can perform in high states of arousal. A lot of people go through the motions in training and then crumble under pressure in a match situation. You need to recreate the pressure of competition in training.
Imagining yourself being involved in a high-pressure situation is an effective way of getting better at this. Staging a practice penalty shootout at the end of an exhausting training session can provide a worthwhile test of how good a player really is at controlling their emotions when suffering from fatigue.”