The Olympics are upon us. Was competing at the Olympic level a goal of yours? History is in the making as ordinary people, athlete’s like you and me, are joining the Olympic team and anticipating their chance to bring home the gold.
Olympic athletes are sources of inspiration. They’re a reminder that it’s possible to pursue a dream and turn it into a reality. We all have dreams. Olympians are our nation’s success role models. There’s more to becoming a champion than just the physical training. Their mindset sets them up to win.
The Olympics offer a unique set of challenges. “They must get athletes in the best physical, technical and emotional condition of their lives while not overtraining them and manage a totally complex environment full of distractions,” said Daniel Gould, Ph.D., CC-AASP, Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University.
Champion athletes learn from experience, the breakthroughs and the disappointments. Here are some of the mindset challenges they’ve faced along the way.
1. Pre-performance anxiety. Each sport, and each athlete, has a unique set point for optimal arousal. With experience you’ll discover your optimal level of arousal. Discovering the sweet spot sets you up for a strong start when competing. Too much or too little impact performance. What do you need to get the job done? An optimal level of arousal let’s you psychologically perform at your best.
2. Focus. Most athletes make the mistake on where they place their focus. Winning, and not losing, appear to be what athletes shoot for most. Outcomes, however, are outside of your control. Change your focus to technique and doing your best. Sarah Robles is the No. 1 ranked women’s weightlifter she requires laser focus to push through the pain. Her determination keeps her focused on making a difference while doing something she loves.
3. Fatigue. It’s your bodies signal that you’re pushing yourself hard. With the right training, you can learn to push through the discomfort. Olympic athletes understand they have the capacity to push through it. Training teaches them to create a new response to pain from fatigue.
4. Recovery. Ryan Hall has learned the hard way that, “It takes an amazing amount of confidence in your condition, and belief in yourself, to rest.” Athletes who believe more is better are setting themselves up for failure. Rest prior to competing allows your body to recharge. Athletes who overtrain might be compensating for lack of confidence.
5. Perseverance. It’s easy to maintain composure when things are going well. Gabrielle Douglas, a first time Olympian for the gymnastics team knows how to stay cool under the most high pressure moments. During the Pre-Olympics uneven bar routine, her hand slipped going from the high to low bar. Not only did she avoid a fall, which would have cost her a spot on the team, but she maintained her composure throughout the rest of her routine.
6. Versatility. Mike Krzyzewski, basketball coach for the Olympic Men’s Basketball he doesn’t agree with using athletes to play one position. He wants the best players on the court at all times. They’ll go where their needed. “I don’t have a position. Just put me on the floor,” LeBron James replied.
7. Distractions. Anything can happen. The trick is to choose your response. Brady Ellison, USA Archer states, “Archery is a sport where it’s one-on-one, you win or you go home,” Ellison said. “It’s kind of like golf in a way. It’s a mental game, a lot of focus. And if you mess up, you’re more than likely not going to win. It’s a game of perfection. There’s just a draw to being perfect.”
8. Visualization. Kayla Harrison judo “I visualize all my matches; who I could possibly fight and what I could possibly do to win. I visualize myself winning, getting up and running over and giving Jimmy [Coach Jimmy Pedro] a huge hug. Then I’m on top of the podium hearing the national anthem. Every night I do it a different way but by the time I get to the Olympics I will have already won in my mind, thousands of times.”
9. Confidence. “I learned that if I just keep a positive mental attitude that I can go out there and do whatever I hope I can do. It’s all mental in getting out there, and having confidence in myself, and having strength and knowing I can do it.” Missy Franklin, swimmer
10. Adversity. Natalie Dell, rowing said “Always be prepared to race. “No matter who’s next to you, no matter what the water’s doing, no matter what the wind is doing. I’m ready to handle whatever conditions Eton can throw at us.”
Now you have your Olympic mindset check list. The Olympic athletes are showing you that a champion mindset is possible. Be inspired. Take action. See results.
Challenge: How many of these qualities do you already possess? Identify one you would like to strengthen. Consider what steps you would need to take and where it could easily fit into your training routine. To make it work for long lasting results, create a simple, easy to follow routine.