To excel in professional sport requires you to be born with a natural talent. However what is now commonly agreed is that in the modern era, talent alone is simply not enough to make it to the very top.
Elite athletes are amongst the fittest living beings on the planet. They are finely tuned, exquisitely conditioned and mentally robust individuals who consistently achieve high standards of performance. We can admire them, we can want to look like them, and we may even try to act like them. However, what I’m certain of, is that we can gain the most progress and ultimately success in our own lives, by learning to think like them.
The mindset of an elite athlete is what sets them apart from everyone else. Of course they are only human, they have busy lifestyles, families, hopes, dreams, insecurities and temptations to battle with like the rest of us. Yet despite this, their ability to push forward and achieve results is what stands them out from the masses.
This is because elite athletes who make it to the very top of their game, have achieved mastery of their mindset. This mindset mastery provides an elite athlete with the ability to consistently enforce and repeat the correct daily habits, that form the foundations of optimum performance and winning results.
Based on this, let’s explore a little further how mindset mastery is achieved, and identify 4 mindset characteristics displayed by an elite athlete:
Physical Development Is A Way Of Life.
A principle of the MAPPS coaching programme is to create ‘a body for purpose’ and this is exactly the same for an elite athlete.
They do not see improving and maintaining their physique as a job, chore or inconvenience – it is a way of life. Working out and improving their physical attributes is a top priority and is at the forefront of their mind each and every day. Without optimal levels of physical conditioning they will not be able to succeed at what they do, this means that daily activities and appointments get arranged around their training regime and never the other way around.
Lastly, and very importantly, most athletes have no interest in the way their body looks – they simply want it to perform to its peak. The fact their body will usually look good as a product of their training and lifestyle, is simply an added bonus.
Nutrition For Fuel.
A top level elite athlete has very little emotion towards food. It is very rare during a competitive environment, season or training camp where they will eat food simply because it ‘tastes nice’ or they enjoy it. Elite athletes choose foods based on those that provide the best forms of fuel to help their body move well, grow in strength, and repair efficiently.
Everything an elite athlete eats serves a purpose, while junk food and processed items are understood to be the enemy and are avoided. It’s not all doom and gloom though as certain treats are allowed, but only when the time is right and they have been earned. The very best athletes however, are simply not bothered, because victory in their chosen sport, is worth all of the sacrifice.
The Value Of Recovery.
As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.
Constantly smashing yourself in the gym will not lead you to a place of optimum performance. The best athletes in the world are aware of this and have the ability to listen both to their body, and the coaching team around them, even on the days when they don’t always want to.
On days where they feel like training some more, elite athletes know that getting enough rest is just as important as training hard. They understand that we do not grow in the gym, we grow and repair outside of the gym. They give their body’s enough time to repair stronger and improve further – avoiding burnout and unnecessary exhaustion. They take days off when they are needed and get adequate sleep every night, instead of staying awake watching crap TV. Their nutrition is also designed around supporting their recovery irrelevant of their taste buds.
Focused On The Outcome.
There are times when elite athletes can become demotivated or hit plateaus, just like the rest of us. The difference is that they do not use it as an excuse to give up. For an elite athlete, there is no giving up. The top level guys and girls will always find a solution and battle through the hard times because they know the rewards will be worth it.
They do not give in to temptation, and remain focused on their outcome at all times.
So How Do You Consistently Achieve This?
Many of you will have tried what has been mentioned above, and will have achieved some levels of success with it. But how many of you start well, then often fade away? Elite athletes are persistent, consistent, self motivated and focused. They know what they want and they do their utmost to achieve it. But they also know that like the muscles in their body, their mindset must be trained.
Mastery of your thoughts, inner voice and emotions takes time and effort. As with training your body, this also requires you to use the correct techniques. There is one key skill in particular that elite athletes work on every day, that you must acquire and consistently develop.
Elite athletes spend time working on and developing what is known as their ‘compelling vision’ and this is something you must also create, and fix in your mindset to give you the drive and motivation each and every day to achieve your goals.
How you create this compelling vision, is covered in my next blog post!