Playoffs: Pressure or Privilege?


We, the Charlotte Independence, qualified as the number 2 seed in the Eastern division for the USL playoffs. Being the number 2 seed gives us a shot to compete for the USL championship, with (at least) our first game being at home. There were a lot of ups and downs during the regular season, but the team persevered during the second half of the season!

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s great! Are you nervous?”

Isn’t that such a silly question to ask? I mean, seriously, stop and think about it. We just grinded out 32 regular-season games, and now that playoffs are starting, it’s like this game is a ‘bigger deal’ than the previous 32. We’re all guilty of this way of thinking, myself included. I definitely used to ask the same question when I was on the other side of the conversation. When I sat down and really thought about why we ask this question though, I became more and more amused about why it’s asked. My thoughts led me to one word: 


Now, I know this is a feeling you’ve probably felt before, especially in playoffs or any other ‘big moment” throughout your career or life, but is it actually necessary?

I was taken back to a penalty shootout in my college years.

It was my time to step up and convert from 12 yards. I had scored so many penalties throughout my life that it was basically second nature to me. But this penalty felt different. My heart was racing and it felt like everything was in slow motion. This was unlike any other penalty I had taken. All those feelings would culminate in a missed penalty. The moment swallowed me, and I was devastated, wondering why this penalty felt so immense. Many years later I got it!

Pressure’s only powerful when we give it power!

Did that make sense? If it doesn’t, think about why you feel pressure in certain moments and why you don’t feel pressure in other moments. When we give situations power over us, we feel more pressure during them. This is either a blessing or a curse. The blessing is that we have control over how much pressure we feel, and the curse is, well, the same thing. The key is how we master ourselves when we are in these ‘bigger moments.’ When I’m in these situations now, I always like to say, “Pressure is fake!”

The amount of pressure I felt during that penalty kick in college was only the amount I allowed. I realize that now and fully embrace ‘high-pressure’ moments. Embracing pressure and changing my mindset about it has led me to see that: Pressure is a Privilege! This change in mindset gives me complete control over how I feel when I’m in these situations on the field. High-stakes moments come into our lives to make us grow as players and people. Therefore, this makes any form of pressure an opportunity to get and be better!

Next time you’re in a playoff game, championship game, or penalty shootout, say, “THANK YOU!”

Pressure can definitely be intimidating, but there’s no reason it has to be! These moments come into our lives to give us opportunities to learn and grow. Take situations as they are and embrace pressure. Better yet, absolutely crush pressure! It’s only real if you allow it to be. Remind yourself that pressure’s only there to make you better! Furthermore, nobody is perfect in these situations either. Even the best players fall short on the highest stages. If things don’t go your way in one of your ‘bigger moments,’ learn from it and do better the next time!

Keep grinding. I believe in you!

Brandt Bronico
Charlotte FC #13


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