“I think that people think it’s innate,” Anderson said. “I think people say that a guy either has it or he doesn’t. We know that’s just not true.”
Clutch would be better defined as the ability to block out outside noise and focus on tasks at hand. Maybe Derek Jeter didn’t change as a player, but he was able to continue being great during the World Series because he didn’t let nerves, criticism, worldwide viewership etc. get in his way.
Anderson likes the example of forward TJ Oshie winning a shootout against the Russians in the Olympics. Following the game, Oshie admitted to his legs shaking while skating toward the goalie to take shot after shot.
“Some athletes put in that situation are like, ‘Why now, in the most important time in my whole athletic career are my legs shaking?’” Anderson said. “Why do they feel so heavy now?’ Ultimately if they are thinking about why their legs are shaking, it’s enough distraction to pull away from, where’s that hole going to be? Where can I snap this shot? That’s the difference between scoring a goal and missing.”
Anderson said that the human brain has similar reactions to clutch situations in sports as it might to a life-or-death situation, so training the brain to recognize them differently isn’t as simple as pretending they don’t exist.
“Some people will say, ‘Should I pretend that I’m not there in the big moment? Should I pretend I’m in practice?’ And we say, no, you’re going to know,” Anderson said. “You can’t pretend. If you do that, if you think, ‘I’m at practice, I’m at practice,’ the next thing that comes through your mind is, ‘No it’s not, this is freaking big time.’ Now you’re distracted battling yourself about what it is and what it isn’t.”
Read more and see the full article at “Why Teddy Bridgewater’s clutch history matters” – 1500ESPN