Competing to Win- Part 5

In this Competing to Win series, we’ve been talking about strategies that are crucial to making it to the top of the podium. In the first post we discussed how learning to effectively cope with a bad event can be a huge step in moving forward and improving. Next we talked about looking fear in the eye and taking risks. Then we examined routines and considered how you can use them to free up your mind to focus on the competition in the heat of the moment.

In the last post we talked about flexibility. You need to be ready to roll with the punches and remember that you’re not here for a perfect routine, you are here for a phenomenal performance in the competition.

Trust Your Training

As an athlete, you naturally pour so much time into physical training.  But as we do that, it’s easy to overlook the mental side of sport. Today we’re going to talk about one aspect of the mental side- how to trust your training.

A Plan you can trust

Often athletes don’t trust their own training, even when they have a well-written plan or a coach by their side. Athletes don’t always trust the hard work they’ve put in. So the result is a lack of self confidence on game day. Then negative thinking takes over, and it presents itself in poor results.

If you don’t trust your coach’s plans going into a competition, you need to discuss it with him/her before you get there. When you are at a competition fueled by doubt about your plan and work to get there, your results have already been decided in your brain. If you don’t believe in yourself by the time you are at the competition, you are guaranteed to fail.

You need a plan that makes you feel confident. You need to trust that your coach and that he/she wants to see you do your very best. And you need to believe that you are working as hard as you can every day, so that on that big competition day you know that you left no stone unturned and that you have done all that is possible up to this point. When you train that way, with that mindset, you will compete more confidently.

When the moment arrives

When your big moment arrives, all you have left is that very moment. The plan has been walked out and the hard work already put it. It’s time to make the magic happen!

When my headphones died in the middle of my Olympic finals, it made me realize that I didn’t have my headphones on when I dove. I didn’t need the music to get into my “zone.” I could go through the actions of my dive waiting for my name to be called, but once I raise my arms up to start the dive there is no more work I could do, nothing else I could add.

At that moment, you have nothing else to rely on but the confidence in the hours of training you put in and the knowledge that you know exactly how to do what you are about to attempt.

Let it go

You have put in time, work, heart, blood, sweat and tears and then the moment is at hand. You are confident in what you have done leading up to this point, so now it’s time to let it all go. Wait, what?!

That’s right, it’s time to let it go. Your body has been training for this and so has your mind whether you realized it or not. The work is done, it’s time to enjoy the ride. This is where you have to stop thinking and just allow your body to do what you have trained it to do.

This is probably THE hardest thing to do in sports. But if you have trained right, it is the most liberating and freeing feeling. It’s truly the purest joy in sport. It’s a little scary just like jumping off that platform with both feet for the first time, not knowing what’s going to happen. But once you do it, you won’t be able to get enough of it!

It ain’t over til it’s over

We’ve talked about coping with bad events, taking risks, routines, flexibility, and trusting your training. The only thing left to do is NEVER GIVE UP. You heard about the failures of Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth. The difference between them and others may be as simple as they NEVER GAVE UP.

Read the other posts in this series:

Post 1     Post 2     Post 3     Post 4     Post 5

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