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Lewis Hamilton and the stress of competition

Hamilton is a four times Formula One champion and one of the truly elite figures in British sport but despite all that the 33-year-old admits he still feels the stress of competition.

Anthony Hamilton (Lewis Hamilton’s dad) British Grand Prix – Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a record sixth British Grand Prix looked to be in tatters after Kimi Raikkonen pitched him into a spin at the start. The Mercedes driver recovered to second in spectacular fashion but it was title rival Sebastian Vettel who took the ultimate spoils with a superbly measured performance…

But despite his success on the track, Anthony Hamilton told me that he still feels an intense pressure to perform in front of the British fans at Silverstone last weekend.

Having watched the Ferrari’s pace in the three free practice sessions over the weekend, Lewis managed to put his car at the front of the grid infront of his thousands of adoring fans.

I asked Anthony Hamilton where did Lewis get that lap from he said, “from his gut.” he literally out drove the car.

In a magazine interview with Man 0f the World magazine Lewis said, “The thing with Formula One is, people perhaps struggle to understand what’s going on inside of the driver. There’s the stress of millions of people watching.

“You’ve got the pressure of the massive corporations sponsoring you. And then, on top of it, you put pressure on yourself, because you really want to succeed.”

“I want to empower young guys with the same belief I had instilled in me as a kid. Not everyone who gets beaten down by other people can overcome and use those experiences to get stronger.”

“Of course you have to work, but I like to maximize every day, enjoy it, because you never know when it’s your last.

“I’m very, very, very conscious of that, so I just like to make sure I enjoy the time I get, and I like to share it with people.

The psychological ‘secret weapon’ behind England in the 2018 World Cup

In late 2017, the FA hired psychologist Pippa Grange as Head of People and Team Development. The 47-year-old naturalized Australian, a former athlete who graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in sports science, was tasked with transforming the club’s culture and equipping players with psychological tools to help them better navigate the mental and emotional aspects of the game.

“There is a dawning understanding that it will take more than the carrots or sticks to get people to keep performing and to keep striving for excellence,” Grange wrote in her book Ethical Leadership in Sport: What’s your Endgame?

“Athletes, like everyone else, want something to believe in, a vision that they can invest in and an organisation that they are proud to belong to.”

Grange doesn’t just instruct players, though, but also encourages them to get to know each other rather intimately. In small groups, the players shared life stories, anxieties and ambitions, with the goal being, as team manager Gareth Southgate said in a profile on Grange from The Guardian, to make “them closer, with a better understanding of each other.”

Grange has also encouraged the players to, complete daily wellness questionnaires and use individually tailored visualisation strategies to score during penalties.

Some of the tactics encouraged by Grange; stay motivated in the face of challenge, how athletes can use various tactics to shift to preferred “states” and “frames” of mind when under pressure.

Don’t fear failure, our successes are achieved through trying, and trying most often ends in failure. Every day in our general lives and our sporting lives we will win some and lose some; it’s just part of the way life should be. It could be missing out on a promotion, being pipped at the line in a running race or bombing out in an exam – it doesn’t matter – the important lesson is to learn from our failures, reassess, rethink, move forward (sometimes in a different direction) and keep those dreams and goals alive.”

Reframe emotions, as Gareth Southgate said, there’s no reason to be “hindered by history” once you understand that you can control how emotions are framed.