Build your clutch mentality in esports – Esports psychology

Probably there isn’t anything worse in esports than losing ‘a game already won’. Underperforming in the most important game moments is known as ‘choking’. Choking under pressure is a major concern in esports amongst players and teams of any game or tier. Choking usually occurs when a player fails to achieve his self-imposed performance in critical situations during the match, when pressure and expectations are high. This underperformance usually leads to additional negative feelings and emotions such as shame, anger and disappointment with self.

Characteristics of ‘The choker’

Good news is that choking under pressure is a well-known phenomenon as it is really common in sports and esports. Here are some of the key characteristics of the ‘choking mentality’:

  • High levels of anxiety during crucial moments
  • Focusing on negative outcomes
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Low levels of confidence
  • ‘Shaky’ inconsistent performance
  • Losing awareness of the game
Characteristics of ‘The clutch meister
  • Uses anxiety and stress in crucial moments to improve performance
  • Focuses on what’s going on in the current moment
  • Is not afraid to make a mistake
  • High levels of confidence
  • Consistent performance
  • Aware and in control

What you can do

The training and learning process of the human brain is ongoing. Believe it or not, if you choke regularly in critical moments, chances are that you ‘trained’ your brain to do so, subconsciously of course. How did that happen? With repetitions. Choking has become your ‘natural reaction’ to clutch moments. The positive thing is that you can actually train your mind consciously how to perform the way you want under pressure. Here are three principles to apply to your training schedule:

There is no difference between a practice game and an official match

Consistency is the strongest weapon in the clutch meister’s arsenal. It is initially built in the mentality and then transferred in the outside environment (practice and officials). Unlike traditional sports where teams and players practice between themselves, esports have the luxury to practice vs enemy teams. This unique opportunity provides you with the chance to bring your practice really close to an official match. If you create your own comfortable environment and you blur the line between a practice and an official match, there is a high chance to reduce choking in critical moments.

There is no perfect play, but there is a perfect effort

Keep this sentence in mind as you play daily. It’s almost impossible to do your perfect play. If you stress constantly about being perfect, it would only lead you to disappointment, as the truth is that in reality, constant perfection is impossible. It’s natural to make mistakes and the clutch minds know that very well. Instead, clutch players focus on a perfect effort. This means understanding your current situation and giving your one hundred percent.

Focus on what matters 

All top performing athletes know that their focus should be solely on the present moment. And this is not some ‘popular zen bullshit’. It’s a universal principle because it helps you stay sharp in your current critical situation instead of worrying what could go wrong if you make a mistake or think about the last time you were in this situation and you lost. Focusing on what’s happening now would also help your brain learn to ‘reset’ and continue fresh after each round/spawn.

If you are tired of falling a victim to yourself losing your games and want to start building your clutch mentality, feel free to contact me at and get your first session FREE.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is endgame-cover-2-1-1024x381.jpg
CS:GO, esports, esports-psychology, Gaming , ,
About George
George Atanasov is a mental performance consultant, currently working in professional esports. He has experience consulting elite athletes and esports players. If you want to improve your mental game sign up for a free initial session with him by messaging at

Leave a Reply