Over the course of their career, players will transverse four levels of competing. They will also notice the behaviors associated with these levels of competing in the opponents they face. It is important to let players experience all of these levels so that they can handle the mental and emotional pressures these different roles create.
1) The Underdog
This is the easiest role to fulfill. There is no pressure, so players can relax and swing freely. This level does not teach one the skills to win in the clutch, as leading in a match is unfamiliar or uncomfortable to these players. There is a low probability of success for players that get stuck in this level. Kids who regularly play up an age group often show an inability to deal with the mental and emotional pressure of playing in their natural age group.
2) The 50-50 Player
Starting to win more and compete at a better level. Player thinks he is good enough to win and experiences low to moderate amounts of pressure. This player often starts fast in matches but doesn’t hold up if momentum swings against him. He will check out if the win starts to get out of reach. This player doesn’t convert battle zones well. They are uncomfortable leading against a top player.
Expectations are growing and with it the pressure. The player learns to play under pressure at this level. This is a good level to learn to achieve, but scary and vulnerable. Will succeed against lesser players if routines and fundamentals are followed. Winning often feels more of a relief than elation. Need to convert battle zones at this level.
4) Dominant Favorite
Privilege to get to this level. Can withstand the pressure of playing at a high level with pressure.