Everyone is aware that the Olympic athlete has to invest their time wisely in preparation for their event. Be it technical/tactical training, conditioning and nutrition but as Olympic gold medalist gymnast Shannon Miller states “the physical aspect of the sport can only take you so far, the mental aspect has to kick in, especially when you’re talking about the best of the best. In the Olympic Games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medalists from the silver medalists is simply the mental game.”
So in developing our high performance model where do we start with these inputs for our athletes?
1. Defining Commitment and Establishing Our Goals
Personally I think it is important to discuss with athletes what their definition of commitment is. From here we can establish our goals. A good goal setting program can be adjusted and must pay attention to the process as opposed to the outcome. An outcome goal could be 2 or 5 months away but what type of habits are we trying to build on a day to day basis?
2. Combatting the Negativity
Being negative as humans is a natural reaction. We by nature are negative. Just look at an example in the weather. If we wake up to snow, we usually have a negative thought about “why does it have to be snowing?” I’m not sure if we can get away from the negativity but we can definitely build our mind set or conscious effort to combat the negativity. Going back to snow example, “I can’t believe it is snowing today, however maybe at the end of the day I can build a snowman or go tobogganing with the kids”. Those with a high performance mind set can have a great influence into their thought process where the amateur seems to get stuck on a negative point.
3. Create Strong Focus Points
In the start of creating a strong mindset for athletes, I like to discuss key focus points in habits, awareness, and work ethic. These key focus points can be used in establishing our ABC’s or 123’s. For example a good habit could be establishing sleep patterns, awareness could be loss of emotional control and an example of work ethic could be that extra rep. Therefore when adversity or stress becomes relevant for the athlete we fall back to reminding ourselves of our ABC’s. We simply identify the negative or setback that may have happened and combat with our ABC’s. For example, I have followed strong sleep patterns (A), I am going to take a couple of deep breaths (B) and I have invested my time to work through this (C). These focus points should be action orientated and contribute to battling the negativity and help in building our confidence and focus.
It would not be fair to say that these 3 inputs are the backbone to a successful high performance career, but hopefully it gives an idea into how to start the process of building the conscious effort in athletes.