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High Expectations Can Lead Pressure and Effect Performance

High Expectations Can Lead Pressure and Effect Performance


Above: The expectation on England to perform is very high.

Expectation can be perceived in two ways. One way is the way supporters see it. When supporters see the media or other supporters expecting their team to win, it gives them hope and increases their own belief that their team is going to win. This therefore is a good thing for the supporters because they are looking forward to a match and are happy because they are pretty much convinced that their team is going to win.

However there is a flip side to this and this comes in the form of what the players who are expected to achieve great things actually feel.

What is expectation?

The Oxford Dictionary states that expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case”. This definition sums up how expectation can increase the pressure on a player or team. The phrase ‘strong belief’ suggests that the person with this ‘strong belief’ is convinced what they are believing is going to happen. When a whole country has this ‘strong belief’; the pressure is enormous!

One sportsman named Andy Murray has had great expectation on him since the day he turned professional in 2005. He has been Great Britain’s number 1 ever since the days of Tim Henman and is a prime example of expectation and pressure taking its toll on a sportsman. Even though Andy Murray won the US Open at the end of 2012, it still took him 7 years to win a Grand Slam when tennis experts and most tennis supporters have admitted that he isn’t short of the talent or ability to win a Grand Slam.

So this leads to the question, “If Murray had the ability to win a Grand Slam, then why didn’t he?” There may be many reasons for this but the expectation on his shoulders to win was there for everyone to see. Britain’s number 2 is James Ward and he is ranked 215th in the world. Why Britain only have one tennis player in the top 200 is an issue for another day but you can see why Britain heap all their expectation on to one man when there is such a gap in the rankings between Murray and Ward.

The 26-year-old Andy Murray has recently said that he has come to terms with the pressure put on him now he has matured. However in his younger years he struggled to cope with the pressure and expectation. In 2007 when Murray was beginning to make a name for himself in tennis, a columnist said that “You look for the kid in him and what you invariably see is a prodigy weighed down by our expectations of him, as well as his own. It doesn’t look like much fun.” This writer has summed up those 7 years Murray went without winning a Grand Slam. If Murray is feeling the expectation of a nation on his shoulders as well as the expectation he puts on himself; then he is obviously not going to be enjoying himself. Furthermore if he isn’t enjoying himself then winning is a long way away!

Having won Queens recently in June the expectations and the pressure on Murray at Wimbledon will have increased. Let’s hope he has learned how to deal with the expectation put on him.

Britain and especially England seem to have this great desire to expect great things from their sports men and women. The English national football team is no exception to this. Every tournament England reach there is always this hype around the place that people believe England are going to win the tournament. This is strange considering England hasn’t won a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup.

Players often speak of the huge expectation on them to perform because England is said to have the best league in the world; the Barclays Premier League. However 62% of the players in the Premier League are foreign. When you think of it like this, we really shouldn’t be expecting much of the England national team because not many English players are getting the chance at the top level.

Despite this, much is still expected of England and the pressure on England to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and to go beyond the Quarter Finals is very high. Like the Under 21’s England have not had much trouble qualifying for the major tournaments. However when the tournament comes around the pressure and expectation on the players to perform intensifies resulting in a poor performance from the team.

A prime example of this is this summers Under 21 UEFA European Championships where the England under 21’s couldn’t even manage to get one point when they were expected to at least reach the semi finals.

The expectation to perform is high for any big international team. But imagine being a top international team and hosting the biggest tournament in the world. Well this is what Brazil will be doing next summer when they host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. We can’t say that they will perform badly because the tournament hasn’t kicked off yet. However according to the Brazil international and Manchester United full back Rafael, the expectation for Brazil to win the World Cup is enormous and is far greater than the expectation England put on their national team.

If this is the case then the Brazil players are in for one hell of a year and will have to learn to cope with the pressure that comes with not only playing for Brazil; but playing for Brazil in a World Cup in their own backyard.

Expecting your team to perform is part of being a supporter. You wouldn’t be a very good supporter if you didn’t want your team to win and expect them to try their best. However maybe expectations and the pressure you put on your team should be tempered to give them chance to play without such a weight on their shoulders, or else it could lead to a worse performance. The key is to replace expectations with “Process Goals”. Search Process Goals at the top of the website for more information and tips on how to overcome pressure do to expectations and perform with confidence!

Article by Joseph Husbands

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Twitter: @SSPsychology


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