There’s a difference between the first place finisher and the rest of the competition. Truthfully, the gap in physical abilities between the first and last place finisher is relatively small. There is, however, one important, but frequently overlooked, training component which separates the leaders from all the rest.
Your training plan builds physical strength. That gets you physically prepared for the competition. On competition day, however, all the training is behind you. Grinding it out the last couple days before the event doesn’t work in your favor, and may even work against you.
The champs have the self confidence that they’re competition-ready. This is a competitive advantage. A well-developed mental game muscle keeps you focused, solid and performing your best in high pressure moments. I’ve witnessed too many world class athletes give away their lead because they cracked under pressure. Mental toughness keeps you strong where others falter.
Athletes who believe mental toughness training is about “toughing it out” and “white knuckling it” are mistaken. Tiny Meeker set the new bench press world record at 1,102 lbs. because he trained for it physically and mentally. “No” was not an acceptable answer.
Champion athletes approach performance, and winning, differently from average athletes. Here are seven mental toughness qualities for a competitive advantage.
1. Motivation – Tap into your purpose to compete and win. Set your vision to go beyond good enough. Champion athletes are driven to continually seek performance gains (keep it clean, of course).
2. Initiative – You don’t need someone to give you permission. Champion athletes seek to claim the lead, setting the bar for the competition.
3. No Excuses – Own your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Competitive athletes, better than most people, are excellent at taking on a challenge.
4. Determination – Shift your focus to the possibilities instead of the problems. Pretty soon you’ll begin viewing opportunities that had been there all along, but you failed to notice.
5. Strengths-Based Approach – Athletes are quick to tell me their faults. It sometimes takes a moment to recognize their strengths. Like champion athletes, define your areas of excellence, and then use that to your advantage. And be brutally honest about where your mental game needs development.
6. Extra mile – I’ll bet there are things you could be doing now to improve your performance, but you’re not. Even when no one is looking, champion athletes continue to push themselves to be the best they can.
7. Tough Minded – Most athletes train to train. That’s good. But training to compete offers you a competitive advantage. Where do you stop yourself? What happened the last time you became unraveled and lost focus? What would be different if those things didn’t happen to you? Champion athletes get uncomfortable, too. The difference is their response.
Just like some athletes are naturally gifted, some athletes are more confident. But it’s not a birthright. Similar to new techniques and skill sets, mental toughness is trainable.
Here are some suggestions to get you started. First, are you coach-able? Just like you train for new performance records, you train for mental toughness. Decide who will be your next teacher. Then, with an open mind, notice where you’re stopping yourself (without beating up on yourself).
Remember to seek opportunities, not obstacles. Champion athletes are willing to take risks. With the right mindset, failures set you up to win. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Mental toughness trains you to approach every moment of the competition with a winning mindset (even when you don’t have a chance of winning). You’ll never have to wonder “What if?” regretting that you didn’t give the competition your best shot.
If you’re prepared to set new performance records, then let’s talk. Apply now for a complimentary “Best Season Ever” strategy session. Here’s where you’ll gain mental toughness opportunities that lead to winning results.
It’s time to reveal the secrets of champion athletes. Loren Fogelman is author of The Winning Point, a top 10 Amazon bestseller for Sports Psychology, and founder of ExpertSportsPerformance.com, a company devoted to teaching you how to go from good to great to make this your best season ever. Loren presents throughout the country for conferences and teams seeking the winning strategies to stay cool under pressure for champion performance.