What do Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, tennis superstar Serena Williams, and Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time have in common?
They’re all great champions but what makes them the best ever at their sport isn’t only their natural ability.
An athlete can have all the physical attributes that should make them a champion. They can be very skilled at their sport, train hard, and perform well under pressure. Despite this, they never reach the top podium.
There’s something missing but they don’t know what it could be. Having a champion mindset separates a great athlete from the rest of the pack. This article examines how adopting a champion mindset can push an athlete to cross the finish line first.
How to Have a Champion Mindset
Having a champion mentality isn’t always something a person is born with. It’s not only relegated to athletes either. Many successful people got where they are through hard work and mental toughness.
Bill Gates was shy and awkward as a child and spent most of his time reading books. Elon Musk was so quiet his mom thought he was deaf. He got bullied in school to the point he needed plastic surgery to fix his nose.
Somewhere along the way, both of these men, and millions of men and women like them, developed a competitive mindset.
They were going to overcome the odds. They were going to make something of themselves. They changed their attitude and refused to take “No” for an answer.
Having the same mindset in sports, regardless of what the sport is, will also yield successful results. Here’s how to adopt the mindset of a champion.
Believe in Yourself at All Costs
Successful athletes attribute their trophies, medals, and wins to a strong belief in themselves or a higher power. In a way, the two relate to each other. Faith or spirituality can push the self-doubts out of their minds.
While this isn’t always the case as some athletes aren’t spiritual at all, there isn’t a professional or Olympic athlete that doubts their abilities. Yes, they may be humble, but deep down, they know they’ve worked hard and have the tools to win.
It’s become a bit of a cliche but never giving up is a big part of being successful.
Although he was so quiet his mother thought he was deaf, Musk learned karate and judo to fight back against his bullies. He had enough of his early life in South Africa and at age 17 emigrated to Canada with less than 200 pounds.
Today, he’s worth close to $26 billion. He’s only 47. Musk was resilient and relentless and 30 years later, it’s paid off.
Whether it was a rough childhood, injuries, or hearing they weren’t good enough, the majority of athletes have faced adversity at some point in their lives. They never gave up and they fought through it at all costs.
Having the mindset of a champion means you see what’s in the way and stay focused and determined to plow through it.
Overcome Your Own Obstacles
Sometimes, someone believes in themselves but can’t focus on the end result. They get distracted or allow the tiny little voice that tells them they can’t become so loud it’s deafening. They can’t visualize finishing a race or winning a game.
The old adage, “You’re your own worst enemy” is never truer than in athletics. All the greats find something at one point that allows them to get out of their own way. That’s when the athlete mentality of hard work and dedication pays off.
Marry Your Body and Your Mind
Athletes are in top physical condition by the sheer nature of their careers or passions. They work and train to reach the pinnacle of the physical form. This helps them to dig deeper and push harder.
But what’s also important is that they respect their bodies and listen to them. They know what it takes to keep their bodies performing in peak condition. They also know when something is wrong and they can’t physically continue.
All athletes push hard, it’s part of having a competitive spirit, but they know when enough is enough. They understand that they must listen to doctors and trainers when they’re injured, despite wanting to get back out there.
They respect their bodies and know that while they want to be in the race instead of sitting in the stands, they’ll do more harm than good if they try to compete.
Be Humble and Always Willing to Learn
Always be humble, at all times, to all people.
Remember that shy and awkward kid named Bill Gates? A school librarian pulled him out of his shell by sharing her love of books with him. To this day, Gates thrives on sharing and receiving knowledge from others.
That’s called a growth mindset in sports. That’s when an athlete sees their skills as something to develop and cultivate. They don’t rest on the fact they’re a fast swimmer or strong runner.
They know they can always get faster, get strong, get better.
The most successful athletes, whether they’ve won multiple Super Bowls, tennis grand slams, or Olympic gold medals, are always the first one to show up and the last one to leave.
Kobe Bryant won five NBA championships, two scoring titles, and a league MVP. Yet, he always wanted to be better and believed he could be. Bryant was notorious for having a work ethic that didn’t let up, even when he was 37 and in his final year.
Michael Jordan was Bryant’s idol and inspired his willingness to always learn. Jordan’s own work ethic rivaled his accomplishments. Work ethic isn’t all about putting in the work on a physical level; you have to want to get better so much so that you will stop at nothing to get it.
That’s what separates a good athlete from a champion.
Creating a champion mindset is pivotal in reaching your goals. Now that you know how strengthening your mental game will improve your physical results, it’s time to put them to use!
At Triathlon.net, we’re the online authority on creating champions. Our training blog has workout tips and how to prepare for the first triathlon. We have ways to improve your swimming and cycling disciplines whether for both aspiring triathletes and vets.