By E-Perform | Goal Setting | August 4, 2022
How To Deal With Pressure and Expectations
While having a little pressure in life can motivate you, having too much of it, coupled with people’s expectations can paralyze you.
When you let pressure control you and let other people’s expectations influence your thoughts, you can easily lose focus. So how do you keep pressure and expectations at healthy levels as an athlete?
In this episode, Joe Partington speaks with one of the most talented African footballers, Andre Ayew.
Introducing Andre Ayew
Andre currently plays for the Championship side, Swansea City, and captains the Ghanaian national team. He has played for Olympique Marseille as a junior player and the senior team, winning two French league titles and three French Super Cups.
Andre has also played for the English side West Ham United and Fenerbahce in Turkey. As a young player, he captained the U20 Ghana national team that won the FIFA U20 World Cup and the U-20 African Cup in 2009.
Hailing from a footballer family, with his father Abedi Pele (3x African Footballer of the year award winner) undoubtedly one of the finest African footballers, Andre had pressure to become the best from a very young age.
In this podcast episode, Andre Ayew shares his journey with us on how he sailed through the rough course under pressure and high expectations and how he managed it as an elite player.
How did Andre Ayew deal with pressure at a young age
After his father’s impressive record in football, topped up with his uncles both being professional footballers, Andre was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age.
Andre’s father (Abedi Pele) had already set a “hard-to-break” African record as 3x African Footballer of the year. With his father being Africa’s football icon, Andre felt somewhat pressured to succeed from a very young age.
Andre says he grew up under pressure, and knowing early that he couldn’t change his situation, he had to learn and make it part of him. He remembers when he could score a goal, and the media could only refer to him as “the son of Abedi Pele.”
People expect you to perform and always be good, you need to have your own goal, stay calm, look at your performance, and improve.Andre Ayew
He also recognizes his parents for making him know the atmosphere in football and the pressure involved at a young age. He says this helped him accept pressure while he was just 12. He says he was never scared to deal with pressure and instead focused on tuning his mind.
“I got to a point where everybody was saying, ‘he will make it.’ But it took a lot of time and sometimes was hard.Andre Ayew Interview quote
Even at a very young age and performing well in football, the media used to refer to him as “the son of Abedi Pele.” It was hard for him to make a name for himself. How could young Andre fulfil people’s expectations?
Keeping his focus and aiming at the goal, Andre says he had to accept pressure very early in his life.
“You can’t change the fact that there will be pressure. The pressure is there, but how do you deal with it?”Andre Ayew interview quote
His parents also made him understand that if he wanted to play football, then that’s what he should expect to go through.
At 15, Andre signed for his father’s former French club, Marseille, at the academy level. He recalls how he kept his head high, and worked hard physically, mentally, and tactically to get a chance in the senior team.
At 17, he made his debut. Now a new form of pressure came calling. He says he had to work extra hard to keep his position in the team.
“I was always working hard physically. Anytime we used to run, I used to be the highest runner on the team.”Andre Ayew
Improving On The Game
His determination to improve and give his best on every matchday yielded a lot of positives.
Andre was called to play for his country’s U-20, which he captained and won the FIFA U-20 World Cup and Africa’s U-20 Cup in 2009. More success came with Marseille, winning two French League titles and a French Super Cup during his time at the club. He later joined Swansea City and later transferred for a record fee signing at West ham United.
Andre agrees that to succeed, you have to be ruthless and unstoppable. He says that if you need more than others, you must “work harder than them.”
Working on your physical, mental, and tactical state is key to improving your game. And when you have trained really hard, sometimes the best form of training you need is rest. By doing this, you allow your body to recover and be able to deliver more.
Andre also says that getting better treatment, having family around you, and getting financial support during injuries can help your quick recovery.
When dealing with high pressure and expectations, you only need to stay calm, set your own goals, and look at how you can improve your performance.
“Everyone’s road is different. But as long as you have your aim, dream and are ready to sacrifice everything for that, I always believe you will make it.”Andre Ayew Quote
Andre Ayew move to Marseille
At 15, Andre joined the Marseille youth team. Everybody wanted to see what he would do for the club after his father had an impressive run in the club. However, away from his family and normal life in Ghana, he says he was stepping out of his “comfort zone” and had it rough to adapt to the academy life.
Two years later, he made his debut for the senior team, setting yet another pressure on him and people’s expectations.
Playing with some of the world’s top footballers, he says he had to be ruthless, unstoppable, and just keep going.
His technical training had to improve, and he also worked hard physically to keep his spot in the competitive team. He also says having a personal trainer, financial support, and focus on mental, physical, and technical wellbeing is key in staying at the top of your game.
“You need to do more than others if you want to get more than them.”Andre Ayew Quote
Andre Ayew: On playing in the Premier League
With a dream to play in the Premier League, Andre came into the English Premier League with another goal to keep rising to the top. After an impressive run with the club, he later joined West Ham United as their record signing. This gave him a totally different type of pressure.
Andre says he no longer had to play to prove to anyone that he’s good enough, but because he was an important part of the team. He trained hard to achieve this but unfortunately suffered a series of injuries.
Andre says he didn’t realize that sometimes the best training is getting some good rest for the body to recover. His stay at the club was faced with bad injuries, expectations, pressure, and a negative focus from the media.
He says you need to be strong mentally and get the proper treatment when faced with such situations. He also says that this is the moment when family becomes more important.
“I think it’s just a matter of being ruthless and unstoppable in your head. Just keep going.”
E-Perform Action Points & Key Takeaways
- If you want more/ or to succeed more than others, you must work harder than them.
- At times of pressure, stay calm and focus on your goals
- Get better treatment when injured, and keep your family close during this time.
- Work on your physical, mental, and tactical state if you want to improve your game.
- Get enough rest after training hard to allow your body to deliver more.
- You need to accept there will always be pressure. But as long as you have your aim, your dream, and are ready to sacrifice everything for that, you will make it.
Notable Andre Ayew Quotes
- People expect you to perform. People expect you to always be good. But you need to have your own goal.
- You can’t change the fact that there will be pressure. The pressure is there, but how do you deal with it?
- My parents made me understand very early that if I want to play football, this (pressure) is what I’m gonna go through.
- I think it’s just a matter of being ruthless, being just unstoppable in your head. Just keep going.
- I was always working really hard physically. Anytime we used to run, I used to be the highest runner on the team.
- You need to do more than others if you want to get more than them. If you want to succeed more, you have to do more.
- In Ghana, when you’re playing, everyone is watching. Everyone becomes the coach. It’s because we love the game.
- Everyone’s road is different, but as long as you have your aim, dream, and are ready to sacrifice everything for that, I always believe you will make it.
- Sometimes you have to train hard. But, there are sometimes when your body needs to recover to be able to deliver.
Andre Ayew Interview Episode Timestamps
[00:48] How dealing with expectations link to modern-day football
[06:14] Why did Andre become a footballer? Expectations or his dream?
[08:11] Dealing with pressure at a young age
[13:43] Moving to Marseille at 15
[17:32] Debut at 17
[22:26] Having a training routine
[28:08] Comparing Ghana’s vs. Club pressure
[31:30] Starring the U-20 World Cup team
[36:30] Thoughts on going on loans
[39:28] Elite player at Marseille
[44:12] Staying fit
[46:40] Joining the Premier League
[50:17] Experience playing as the ‘underdogs.’
[56:10] Andre’s record transfer to West Ham United
[01:00:00] Facing the adversities
[01:07:43] Dealing with everyday pressure
[01:14:35] 5 Quick Fire Questions
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