One of my favourite books is Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow PHD. From this book, I have put together what I believe makes a champion’s mind.
There is no gene that makes someone a champion however someone’s innate traits can lead them to being more successful than someone else. The question many ask is can a champion be made and shaped or are they born a champion, they just need to discover what will make them a champion.
A champion in my eyes is the one who is in the gym when no one else wants to be, outside running in the rain, snow, dark or sweating in an empty gym when no one is watching. They often train on their own because they don’t need someone pushing them to work to their full potential.
You could say that their want to succeed is so bad they have that innate ability to push themselves to breaking point without needing to be told.
So, what makes someone be like the above?
- A champion needs great confidence, composure, the ability to concentrate and be coachable – the 4 C’s. I would also say that the athlete needs to want to excel and have the desire to be the best they can be in their chosen sporting field. Their will to succeed needs to overshadow everything else and this tends to come only with a very disciplined individual.
- Being disciplined is not always easy and it can mean giving up a lot of the fun things in life for the duration of your competing season, but for those who are truly dedicated and want to succeed, making sacrifices is never too hard a decision to make. I would say that being disciplined and having the will to succeed is one of the traits that is hard to teach or ingrain in an individual – I would suggest that they are born with it, they have an inner want to succeed, dream and desire.
- I believe champions that can excel and can be shaped in the gym. A good coach is able to spot an athlete with great potential from a distance. Why is this? Because they themselves often know what it takes and have the innate traits of a champion in them so can easily spot them in another athlete. They can then use this to help shape and push an athlete beyond the potential they thought they had.
- ‘Winning the day’. A successful athlete must realise that there are going to be days when it is going to feel hard and they are not going to want to get up in the dark and train but that 5 a.m. alarm is what will make them better than anyone else. The days you don’t feel like training are sometimes the best training sessions they can have. Embrace what is hard and grow from it.
- Logging your successes is imperative to becoming a champion – remembering the times you succeeded and learning from the times you didn’t. Never is there a failure, just a lesson. A champion must remain positive and proactive in their pursuit of excellence.
- The most important point for me is that a champion never compares themselves to others, they merely focus on their own journey and where they are headed. This is imperative and even more so important when you are competing. Focusing on where everyone else is in relation to you is wasting time and energy. This can be crucial and sometimes even cost you the win.
- And finally, know yourself, who you are and where you want to be. There is nothing more powerful than being comfortable in your own skin and knowing you are doing everything possible to get where you want to be. But always remember confidence above arrogance – don’t be that person.