April Ross Says Dealing with Pressure That Comes with Being an Elite Athlete Is an 'Everyday Practice'
The three-time Olympian and her beach volleyball partner, Alix Klineman, are undefeated thus far at the Tokyo Games
April Ross has put in the work to be able to handle the intense level of pressure put on her as an Olympic athlete — but says that's something that never stops.
The beach volleyball player, 39, told PEOPLE while speaking to reporters on Friday at the Tokyo Games that the aforementioned pressure has "really been shown how big of a factor it is in elite sports, in all sports and in life in general."
"And for me, it's something I am constantly working on," Ross — who is now a three-time Olympian — continues. "You can't perfect it. It's not like, 'Oh, I got it, so I don't have to work on it anymore.' It's an everyday practice and it can be really tough, so you just do the best you can."
Partner Alix Klineman later told reporters that the pair does "visualization before we play. If our matches are later, I would do it on the same day, but I did it last night."
For Klineman, that takes the form of attempting to "feel" herself in her body, explaining, "I feel myself doing things really well, certain things that I'm working on, just to go out onto the court with that extra boost of confidence."
In general, she told reporters that both she and Ross have worked on "the mental side" of their sport, but again said that it's "not something you just get overnight."
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"We have a sports psych that we work with," Klineman continued. "And before leaving we met with her, even just to kind of go over some of the feelings that we were feeling, and talk about it and put it out there and be able to help each other."
"Because there's going to be pressure in sports," Klineman said. "And we're here to support each other and do the best we can."
Undefeated thus far in these Games, Klineman, 31, and Ross bested the Netherlands Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink 2-1 at Shiokaze Park on Friday.
Play continues for the pair on Sunday.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.
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