Recognizing pressure: Learning to read the play, pushing back and standing your ground

One of the most important skills you can learn as a defensive football player is to “recognize pressure.” By that I mean developing the ability to sense where your
opponent is trying to move you.

An offensive line man will try to position themselves on
either side of you to open a hole. A receiver may run down the field to make you think he is getting a pass. A running back may pretend he has the ball to get you to tackle him,
and the quarterback might bootleg to freeze the defense on the back side of the offensive play.

Each one of these movements or motions are intended to take you where they want you to go. They are attempting to exert pressure on you so that you will behave in a manner
that will ultimately help them to achieve their goals.

As a defensive player, you can learn to recognize these kinds of pressures and “read the play.” As a student-athlete, you can develop the same skills to recognize peer pressure. Learning to recognize when someone is trying to move you in a certain direction in your personal life will help you to read what is really going on – and guide you to make better decisions.

To go back to the football analogy for a moment; if you become adept at sensing where the offense is trying to push you, you can exert the same pressure back in the opposite direction and defend against almost any play. Even when you are outnumbered – like when you encounter a double team – pushing back and holding your ground will stalemate your opponent and win the battle for you.

Peer pressure is nothing more than a person or a group trying to move you in a direction that they want you to go. You may face double or even triple teams within the social
circles at school, parties and other gatherings. The challenge they lay on you might be to do something that they do not have the courage or conviction to do on their own.

Finding a few “willing” accomplices always seems to grease the skids in this regard. While it has tremendous potential for creating some positive outcomes, the pressure in this type of group dynamic rarely has your best interests in mind. As more peers join the group, it seems that individual identity is surrendered to the whole – and along with it – independent thought.

Personal accountability becomes blurred as the mass and its momentum increases. The increasing volume of the group’s message – “everyone is doing it so it must be OK” – begins to drown out that little voice in your head that
says: “this is wrong.”

The pressure peers can exert will vary in form, intensity and frequency. It can become a battle, with your strength, commitment, and “will power” being challenged repeatedly.

However, with practice, you can learn to read the peer pressure plays, push back with equal might, hold your ground and turn it around into something positive.

More often than not, someone within that group will witness your defensive stand.

While they may not give you any high fives or fist bumps at the time, they will recognize the strength of your character. They know that what you did was right and respect your
decision. They will know that they are not alone when they have to make the same choice. Others will see their defensive stand as well and feel confident in their ability to
push back.

As you know, momentum can shift on the basis of one key play. Standing your ground against peer pressure can be that defining moment.

Seeing you stand your ground against peer pressure will turn help others to stand their ground too.


Where servanthood and stewardship met