Do you know the feeling of your heart as you dribble a basketball down the court with ten seconds left? Or the feeling of being in the fifth set of a volleyball game with the final game point in your hands? From school rivalries to state championships, student athletes find themselves under extreme pressure with a lot on the line. Mindset and mentality can play a big role in how an athlete performs in close-game situations.
Marshfield High School senior Noah Niblett often finds himself in these high-pressure moments. Not only does Niblett have a leadership role on the MHS varsity football team, but he follows a string of family athletes with big shoes to fill.
“My mindset in close, [Down to the] wire games, stays the same,” Niblett said. “I always come in and out of games with the same mindset. I want to win, and my team and I will do everything we can for that to happen.”
Another student athlete who has a different approach to athlete pressure is Cedar Ward, a senior on the MHS varsity volleyball team.
“I think it’s fun,” said Ward. “I just have a blast, in close down to the wire games I play for my teammates, I go out there and do what is best for my team.”
These two student athletes step up for their teams as well in situations like this and lead their teams to victory.
“When we are down a few points, my way of being a leader is that I will communicate more and make sure to lift my teammates up,” said Ward. “I’ll point out the positives of every play.”
When it comes to down-to-the-wire games, there is always the ending satisfaction of a game winner, a moment where a team scores in some way to achieve the win in a close game. The celebrations after these moments are wins in their own way as well.
“I think the best I’ve felt in a game, [was] right when I knew the game was over,” said Niblett. “It was my sophomore year against Mazama, when we finally sealed the game and we knew we were going to the semifinals. I was so excited that we won, and I messed up a few times in that game, but all that mattered was that we won.”
Student athletes will enjoy these moments after it all ends, but the pressure is on high when they experience these close-game situations.
“In those tight situations, I just try and think about what would be smartest for the team, because there are times when I could either spike the ball, or tip it to the right spot,” said Ward. “Under pressure I just get more confident, it’s more fun when the competition is good and the game is close.”
Being in these close games can be very pressuring on a student athlete, but when everything goes correctly it can end up being the best moments of a career.