Knowing how to win close games is one of the biggest challenges that athletes and teams face. Even when a more veteran team enters the 4th quarter in a close game, their prior experience will only help them if they are approaching the situation with the most successful frame of mind. Experienced teams don’t necessarily know how to turn their knowledge into success. Consistent teams with a strong unified foundation of trust and confidence in one another do.
It’s important to understand that what got you to the fourth quarter will help you through the fourth quarter. Teams and athletes who think they need to change the way they play in order to protect a lead become too cautious and lose an aggressive nature of their game that kept their opponent on their heels up to that point. Teams struggling to finish games may also think they need to rise to the occasion that the pressure they feel manifests. That shift in mindset usually creates the “what if” questions that focus too much on the final score and outcome of the game rather than the next play.