NFL players use this mental trick before big games like Super Bowl—how it can prep you for high-stress situations too

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson drops back to pass during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sports Wire

Getting to Super Bowl is just half the battle for a NFL playercalming the mind when game day finally arrives is another challenge.

Trevor Moawad, CEO of Limitless Minds, has worked with several NFL athletes — from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (Moawad's business partner for Limitless Minds) to former New York Giants star Eli Manning and Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. He's also coached NCAA coaches, including University of Alabama's Nick Saban and University of Georgia's Kirby Smart.

Moawad explained how he prepares athletes for monumental games like the Super Bowl in an interview with Katie Couric's Wake-Up Call newsletter Wednesday. Even if you're not a Super Bowl athlete, or even anything close, his strategies can be applied to any stressful situation, like a job interview or important meeting.

The trick all comes down to one "psychological truth," and that is "you can only think about one thing at a time" in high-pressure situations, Moawad told Wake-Up Call.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of an event or your own nerves, which is why Moawad suggests streamlining your thoughts so you focus on your specific goals. "So, what are the dominating thoughts that are going to allow me to succeed in this moment?" he said.

Before any big event, list the factors that you know you need to bring with you in order to succeed, Moawad said. "It's no different than if you wrote down a grocery list and you walked into Safeway — you would focus on getting the things that you wrote down," he said.

For example, when Wilson was preparing for the 2014 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, he used this trick. Moawad said Wilson's priorities were "playing with great balance and great fundamentals," as well as "being engaged and focusing on simple thoughts."

To be clear: This doesn't mean that you should tune out the fact that it's a big opportunity or situation.

"They want to make it seem like, 'You know what? It's just another game,'" Moawad told Wake-Up Call. "It's not another game. It's a big game. And it can be significantly more important if you're able to be successful in this moment."

In fact, Moawad said you should embrace big moments as opportunities for success, rather than downplay them out of fear. "The more valuable the moment is, the more opportunity for you to succeed," he said. "And that's what it's all about — finding a way to drive that success."

Moawad also said it's crucial for people to understand their job strengths, and work to "get in alignment with those behaviors" each day. "Who I am going forward is based upon what I do, not how I feel," he said.

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