For Kerri Walsh, playing at the Olympic Games is "just another game of volleyball."
The defending two-time beach volleyball Olympic champion is gearing up to take on the world in her third Olympic Games. Walsh is hoping to win a third consecutive Olympic gold medal with teammate Misty May-Treanor, but she's not letting the pressure get to her, she said.
"The thing I realized after the first Olympics is that even though it is the Olympics and you're on this huge world stage and more people are watching, it's just another game of volleyball," Walsh said during the Team USA Digital Send Off live chat. "…What I learned is, don't change a thing. Just keep the same thoughts going through your head."
For Walsh, that includes a lot of positive self-talk and imagery. She tries to picture each possible scenario in her mind, and she teaches herself how to adapt in all possible situations, she said.
"I walk myself through all the scenarios that can happen -- the good, the bad -- and I learn how to adjust in my brain and I visualize that," Walsh said during the live chat. "I'm thinking about the ABCs. If I can get the ABCs done, it allows me to get the XYZ."
And at the end of the day, the 33-year-old mother of two welcomes the pressure, she said.
She and May-Treanor have been competing under pressure since they first began to play together in 11 years ago, Walsh said. During that time, the pair has not only learned to play well with each other, but Walsh believes that they've learned to play best when the pressure is strong.
"I feel like we thrive under pressure, and that's where I think we have an advantage over a lot of the teams going into London, because we've been to two Olympics together before," Walsh said. "So this pressure is really nothing new and we need to capitalize on that."
For one of the most dominant teams in women's beach volleyball history, capitalizing means coming home with a third consecutive gold medal.
The women's beach volleyball tournament is scheduled to begin on July 28, 2012, and the gold-medal match is scheduled to be held on Aug. 8, 2012, according to the London 2012 website.
Read more from this author: Olympian Kerri Walsh is Motivated by her Children, She Says
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46