With all things being equal, what is different about winning athletes? When elite athletes are competing, the gap in abilities between the first and last place athlete is relatively small. You’ll need to dig a little deeper to understand what separates the top 1% of elite athletes from all the rest.
Bryan Bennett, redshirt freshman quarterback for the University of Oregon Ducks, displayed the qualities of a great quarterback. He was given his chance to play in the game against Arizona State University after Darron Thomas, became injured. Many athletes have the physical ability, but it takes more than that to step into a close game and win. “I just tried to stay calm, cool and collected and go out there and play football and have fun,” Bennett said.
Proper training builds strength and endurance. Mindset strategies improve focus and build confidence. Both components, physical training combined with mental game strategies, are necessary for high performance.
Elite athletes view performance, and winning, from a different set of lenses. Where elite athletes place their focus and attention is different from average athletes.
1. Motivation – There is a burning desire to be the best you can be. Being good enough is not enough. Elite athletes possess a deep need to always improve, taking their performance to the next level.
2. Initiative – Driven athletes don’t wait to be given permission to do something. They are the leaders in all they do, setting the standard for excellence.
3. No Excuses – Full commitment is necessary to be the best. Instead of viewing obstacles as problems, elite athletes approach them as challenges to overcome. The goal is the primary focus.
4. Determination – All challenges have solutions. Elite athletes are actively looking for the opportunities to help them reach their goal. Failure is not an option.
5. Strengths Based Approach – Focus on strengths. Elite athletes know where they excel and use that to their advantage. Find the best approach based upon your strengths. Also develop the skills necessary to minimize weaknesses.
6. Extra mile – A strong commitment sets up elite athletes to go the extra mile. Even when no one is looking, they continue to push themselves to be the best they can.
7. Tough Minded - Athletes are expected to do things which stretch them all the time. Tough minded athletes acknowledge the discomfort, but don’t let it stop them. Taking risks, and pushing through their comfort zone, is part of the champion mindset.
A success mindset is more natural for some than for others. Fortunately, it is not a birthright. Similar to new techniques and skill sets, a champion mindset can be learned. It could have been easy for Bennett to panic, given the circumstances. It was a high pressure situation. When he stepped up to the challenge, his teammates positively responded to his confidence and ease.
The champion mindset focuses on the solutions, not the problems. Elite athletes are creative in their approach to challenges, willing to take a risk. Bennett was all about results. Focused attention on solutions, along with a positive mindset, affected his approach to a challenging game. He found opportunities to play his “A” game. Bennett’s champion mindset contributed to the Duck’s winning game.