According to New York Times bestselling author, Jon Gordon, “Optimism is a competitive advantage.” I couldn’t agree more. When I talk to coaches about the mental makeup of champions, optimism is a cornerstone. Inevitably they ask, “How can I help my athletes become more optimistic?” Let’s dive in.
Everyone is looking for an edge in sports. Coaches seek out any possible advantage that could boost their team’s performance. Athletes will go to great lengths to test to limits of their potential. The qualities that were once lumped together as intangibles are becoming tangible. Quickly emerging as the latest trend in sports science, sport psychology is bridging the gap in evaluating and developing athlete’s “no longer tangibles.” Optimism is one such edge.
If you want to build a high-performing team you must first build a championship culture. In Above the Line, Urban Meyer tells coaches that “Leaders create culture. Culture drives behavior. Behavior produces results.” Winning begins with culture.
Athletes are often sabotaged by their own worries, doubts, and fears. Feeling threatened is among the worst. When athletes view their circumstance as a threat their confidence goes out the window. They get nervous. Consequently they play tight, hesitant, and weak. What if you could help your athletes turn those threats into opportunities?
Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” He’s absolutely right. One of the biggest differences between champions and non-champions is how they handle adversity. Some bounce back, but others crumble. It isn’t what happens to an athlete that defines her, but how she responds to that adversity. Unfortunately, far too many athletes don’t have a game plan for when adversity happens.
By now most athletes have heard of visualization. Many have even tried it – picturing making the big play, winning the championship, or hitting a home run. Visualization is a powerful tool for optimizing an athlete’s performance. The problem is that most athlete’s visualizations are dull, quiet, and still. The most powerful visualization is vivid, dynamic, and immersive.