Leadership

Olympic gold medalists reveal the strategies they use to perform under pressure

The U.S. women’s eight rowers have won every world championship and Olympic gold since 2006.
Source: Ed Hewitt, Row2k
The U.S. women’s eight rowers have won every world championship and Olympic gold since 2006.

The U.S. women's eight rowing team thrives under pressure.

They've won a string of eight world championships and most recently, brought home a third straight Olympic gold medal at this year's Rio Games.

How do they continually perform at their best on the biggest of stages?

They tune out distractions, focus on themselves, and trust their team to do the best they can.

As Kerry Simmonds, six-time national team member, told CNBC: "We trust our teammates to be there for us, and having that trust makes it easier to mentally line up for that race. You do get nervous, but it's exciting too, and you know that each person in that boat has your back."

In a way, they leave things up to fate. "With our sport, you've already trained your body to do what it's going to do," Simmonds explained. "So if you just let that happen and you don't let your mind get in the way, you'll be fine."

Of course, the women also have individual race-day routines that keep their nerves at bay.

First-time Olympian Emily Regan likes to go for a row the morning of the race. "It really calms my nerves," she told CNBC.

And Simmonds eats the same thing for breakfast: oatmeal.

When it comes to the team-specific warm-up routine, "it's nothing crazy," Simmonds said. "You just want to do what you've trained to do. And breathe remember to breathe."