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Athletes prepare for high-pressure situations

Sergio Sanchez

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Chris Cobb, men's basketball assistant coach. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

The bases are loaded with nobody out and the cleanup hitter steps into the batter’s box. On the court, there are five seconds left on the clock and the team is down by a bucket.

These are examples of pressure situations teams and athletes go through during a season. Practice and mental preparation help Chico State athletes get through the toughest scenarios in sports.

In baseball, the pitcher faces many circumstances when the game is determined by what pitch they will throw next.

At his position, different moments bring different pressures throughout a ballgame, said senior pitcher Nick Baker.

“It depends on the game and the way it’s working out,” Baker said. “If there are players on base, it obviously becomes more of a pressure situation. Also, depending on the score, there is more stress if it’s a closer game rather than being up by five runs.”

Teams practice the two-minute drill in football. In basketball, a team practices certain plays for different situations.

For baseball, you practice different plays and drills to try to get an out, but as a pitcher, you can’t practice for the moment, Baker said.

“Last weekend in San Diego I had two good innings, and in the third I let in a few runs and things weren’t really going my way,” Baker said. “It was frustrating but I just have to move on and learn from it.”

It is the responsibility of the athletes to perform under pressure and execute plays, but the coaches also have to prepare their teams for those moments.

It is important to make sure the team is prepared for certain situations, said Chris Cobb, men’s basketball assistant coach.

“The big thing as a coach is trying to prepare before it even happens,” Cobb said. “The biggest thing is just being very clear with the guys in terms of what we want to do and how we’re going to play each situation.”

The men’s basketball team has been in seven games this season that were decided by three points or less.

One specific game that came down to a pressure situation stuck out for Cobb this season. It was against UC San Diego in early February — Chico State lost by two at the buzzer.

Recruiting of guys with high character is a part of dealing with tough losses , he said.

“Sometimes, times of adversity can break you,” Cobb said. “The guys we recruit and bring into the program, hopefully, when adversity strikes or tough times hit, you come together rather than breaking apart.”

But with tough losses come great, game-winning moments.

“To beat the 12th-ranked Cal State San Bernardino team the next night showed our toughness and togetherness. It was something special for us that night,” Cobb said.

Sergio Sanchez can be reached at [email protected] or
@sergechez on Twitter.

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Athletes prepare for high-pressure situations