What is the biggest predictor of success for an athlete?
- Is it your physical attributes such as strength, flexibility, height or weight?
- Is it how hard you trained and developed your speed, agility, power, VO2max, anaerobic capacity or endurance?
- Is it how early you started in your sport?
- Is it your natural abilities or skills?
- Is it how many hours you practice?
- Is it diet, recovery, etc?
Each of these are valuable components to sport performance. In spite of all those efforts, there is one missing ingredient that can take you even further in your sport. Without developing this one factor, you will fall short of your objectives and potential.
The one factor that is the biggest predictor of success is your mindset.
What exactly is mindset?
The simple definition is the attitudes you have towards a particular activity. That belief then shapes your effort, preparation, focus and behavior.
For example, your mindset can be positive or negative…
If you were running a marathon and were experiencing tremendous tiredness and muscle fatigue, you might think you won’t be able to finish, and you will focus on what you are experiencing and slow down or even quit…
If your mindset is positive, you might tell yourself, you have been through this before and remind yourself you are on track for a personal best time. You will tell yourself that this is a normal experience that all runners experience and focus on maintaining your pace.
You can have a fixed or growth mindset…
If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your abilities and talents are fixed traits. Marathon runners with a fixed mindset may believe that they are limited by their physiology and can only run so fast, so why try.
With a growth mindset, runners believe they can improve their performance through effort, technique and persistence despite their genetics.
As you can see, mindset is everything!
Mindset was the difference-maker for golfer Gary Woodland and his historic performance at the 2019 US Open. Woodland shot 13-under par, a 72-hole total of 271, tying the second lowest score in U.S. Open history. In addition, Woodland had zero three-putts and only four bogeys, also tying a U.S. Open record.
Woodland wasn’t seen as the favorite to win the tournament. Prior to the US Open, Woodland was 0-for-30 in the majors and only had three PGA Tour victories in his first 10 years as a professional. Interestingly enough, Woodland didn’t start focusing on golf full-time until college.
Despite these factors and having top golfers battling to take over the leader board, Woodland had the confidence and poise to keep battling until the last hole resulting in a -3 stroke victory.
Woodland’s mindset was incredible. Instead of saying to himself, “I’ve never won a Masters,” “I’m too old,” “My ranking is too low,” or “I’m not as experienced or talented as the other golfers,” Woodland stayed positive and believed he could pull off the victory. Woodland saw the final day as a challenge and nothing else.
WOODLAND: “I think from a mental standpoint I was as good as I’ve ever been. I never let myself get ahead of myself. I never thought about what would happen if I won, what comes with it. I wanted to execute every shot. I wanted to stay in the moment. I wanted to stay within myself.”
When the pressure hit as the tournament was coming to a close, Woodland framed pressure in a positive light.
WOODLAND: “I think the big deal is to enjoy the pressure. Obviously it’s an uncomfortable situation leading in a major championship after 36 holes, after 54 holes. But I kept telling myself, even this morning, to enjoy this moment. Enjoy the pressure. Enjoy the stress. Enjoy being uncomfortable. And don’t shy away from it, embrace it.”
If you want to grow as an athlete, you must grow in your mindset.
Tardio Tips: Developing a Positive Competitive Mindset:
The biggest step in developing an optimal mindset is to challenge your previous beliefs. “Is it really true that I can’t win?” “Am I truly limited by my body type or physiology?” “Just because I haven’t accomplished something in the past, does it mean I can’t accomplish that now?
As you challenge what you once held to be true, you will notice that your mindset will change to one that is more growth oriented. With a new and improved mindset, you will climb to new performance heights.
Related Article: Jelena Ostapenko “Have to Win” Mindset
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