There’s no question that when you look at an elite athlete, you can see they carry themselves differently than the rest of us. Especially when looking at the pinnacle of sports, of top superstars that we admire. They seem to have all the answers and make all the right moves. But how did they get there?
What separates these superstars from even just the other professionals? It isn’t all about genetics and gifted physical ability. What it really boils down to is their mindset and outlook on all aspects of life. They know how to approach that pressure situation, how to get through grueling weeks of offseason training, and how to say no.
Mindset is a complex thing and something that can always be worked on and improved. No matter what level you are currently competing at in your sport, you can always work on your mindset. That’s why we are going to talk about 5 tips to start developing that winning Athletic Mindset.
Tip #1: Change your outlook on challenges
Learn how to change your outlook on challenges as being welcomed, rather than the typical “Oh man coach we have to do what??” This is what we call having a growth mindset. Each thing that we face on a daily basis, whether it’s on the practice field or in a competition, we are given two choices. We can let that obstacle or challenge consume us and give up; or we can welcome it with open arms and say “Bring it on.” Top performers are not afraid of a challenge, they welcome what comes with being the hunted. Next time you are faced with some adversity, keep a positive frame of mind and say to yourself “Is that it?”
Tip #2: Focus on one at a time
Learn to focus on competing for one play, one set, one rep at a time. This will help limit your lapses in mental focus and make sure you are giving it all to what is currently in front of you. Every sport is filled with nearly countless plays and it’s easy to look at the big picture. Instead of looking at your competition as a whole, try breaking it down into more sizable chunks. If you’re a baseball player, focus in on the current pitch. If you’re a football player, shake off the last play and lock in on the next. Everyone who’s played a sport knows momentum shifts throughout the competition. This mindset approach will help sway things in your favor more times than not.
Tip #3: Develop a winning pre-workout routine
Develop a winning pre-workout routine. As athletes, much of us being student-athletes, we juggle a lot of things in our lives. Whether it’s the pressures of final exams, family life, or personal life; distractions are everywhere. A consistent pre-workout routine will help you shift out of that real self and into that competitive self you need to be to perform your best. We have all experienced the difference between being at practice physically vs being there physically and mentally. A set routine, whether it’s a playlist, stretching, the way you put on your uniform, will help you learn to leave your real-life problems at the door. Treat your sport as a chance to escape reality for that allotted time. Whatever you choose for your routine, use it to help transform yourself into the competitive beast that you are.
Tip #4: Develop an intra-workout routine
Continuing off of our last tip, athletes need to develop intra-workout or competition routines as well. Like we mentioned earlier, momentum is a double-edged sword. When it’s in your favor, nothing can go wrong and life is good. However, when it’s working against you, we all know the feeling of an uphill battle. A consistent intra-competition routine will help you shake off whatever it is that just happened and allow you to turn tides in your favor more times than not. One great strategy that everyone can implement, is taking a full deep breath. This may sound extremely simple, but trust me that’s the point. Use this deep breath as your reset button. You can’t control prior outcomes, but you can control what happens next. Use an intra-competition routine to help you lock in on whatever you face next.
Tip #5: Have the same work ethic in everything
Don’t just limit your hard work and dedication to practice and playing field. The elite athletes use that same work ethic in everything they do. Whether it’s proper recovery, sleep, nutrition, social decisions. The peak performers are just that because they live 100% of their lives that way. They know what’s at stake with each decision. It’s easy to slip up and say yes to going out until 3 am when you have morning workouts the next day, but that slip up can easily cascade into a series of other bad choices. That out until 3 am night is usually filled with alcohol, poor food choices, and a very poor night’s sleep. Keep the bigger goals in mind when faced with seemly tough decisions like telling those closest to you no. But if you want that dream, that goal, bad enough; you’ll see it’s really an easy choice in the end. Just like poor decisions can snowball into more poor decisions, good choices can do the same. Take care of your body and mind on and off the field and see how much of a difference that makes.
Start implementing these tips as soon as you can and you’ll see how your performance not only improves but becomes more and more consistent. Let us know how these tips worked for you below!
BS Exercise Science, Coaching Science
🔊: The Athletic Mindset Podcast Host