KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No wins in two games for the first time in three decades--Vol football faces a wave of negativity at the start of the season.
An experienced sports psychologist said it's up to the athletes to block out the noise, focus on their role and perform at a high level.
UT Professor Emeritus in Sports Psychology Dr. Craig Wrisberg said athletes deal with pressure every single game.
"Big crowds, social media--this is just what life is like for competitive athletes at the highest levels," Wrisberg said.
There's tons of pressure for Knoxville's most well-known team.
"Pressure is really the perception that what I'm expected to do I'm not capable of doing," Wrisberg said.
He said athletes should focus on just their role on the team.
"My assignment and the way I execute it," Wrisberg said. "And if that's what I'm fully focused on, I shouldn't be feeling pressure."
He said the college-aged players need positive reassurance from coaches and staff because their brains aren't fully developed.
"I think it is important to have coaches and support staff (to) reassure a person. What is it that we have control over here?" Wrisberg said. "And how can we manage the world the way it is and life the way it is at a high-profile school like Tennessee? And get the most out of myself, make the most out of my opportunity to play here and enjoy the experience."
He said social media is adding pressure more than it ever has.
"The question is, what can I gain from going on there? Is there something I can get from that? I can say oh I can work on that, I can do that, I can get better—probably not," Wrisberg said.
He said to make sure athletes of all ages keep their goals in focus.
"Get better and better at it with practice, then go out there and lay it on the line, have some fun," Wrisberg said.
Wrisberg said parents can have a role in this as well--they need to keep calm and let criticism of their athlete go through one ear and out the other.