By Bill Cole
Who is your all-time favorite star athlete? I bet you can name a few. Whoever came to mind, I bet you admire them because they have great physical skills and they are thrilling to watch. Have you ever wondered what made them so good? What is inside their heads that gives them laser focus, high energy and determined drive leading to such high performance?
All great athletes have certain qualities in common. In fact, superstars in any field or discipline have common bonds of high standards, a commitment to excellence, dedication, a robust work ethic and a strong resistance to difficulties in their paths. They overcome adversity and seek challenges.
Let’s take a look at the attributes and qualities championship athletes have that place them into the superstar category. Let’s see what they can teach us so we can use those same mental game tools in our own lives. They have:
1. Composure, Poise and Presence. Champions maintain balance under the most extreme adversity. They don’t panic. They’re able to focus, stay relaxed and continue to walk the walk. They stay positive and act confidently to handle stress.
2. Confidence In Self. Champions believe in their capabilities and know what they can do. They maintain this sense of self even under pressure, or when things are not going well. They remind themselves that they have succeeded in tougher times than these.
3. Eternal Hope. Champions fight to the end. They never give up. They continually seek ways to win and experiment with tactics to turn things around in their favor. They truly believe that there is a way to win, and they just have to discover it.
4. Pacing Skills. Champions know when to take a break and relax. They know how to control the clock so they get a rest. They know that working non-stop leads to burn-out. They have the experience to know when to cruise and when to turn it on.
5. Control Factor Awareness. Champions know what they can control, what they can only influence and what is out of their control. They focus only on those things within their control or influence and let go of the rest.
6. Self-Awareness. Champions know themselves well. They understand what they need to do to perform well. They are aware of themselves in the moment and can make needed adjustments. They listen to their bodies, their minds and their emotions.
7. The Ability To Learn. Champions absorb experience very rapidly. They learn from every outing, good or bad. They seek feedback from others and consider all sides to infuse new techniques and methods into their play. They see what needs to be done to improve and win.
8. Coachability. Champions are coachable. They seek help from those who are more experienced. They form collaborative partnerships with those who can help them. They appreciate the art and science of coaching and make it an integral part of their training program.
9. A Strong Work Ethic. Champions know that hard work leads to confidence and the belief that they deserve to win because they have paid their dues. They know that hard work staves off self-doubt and lack of action. They know that practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Only practice that is perfect makes perfect.
10. Commitment. Champions dream big and they make a pact with themselves to reach those goals. They stay on track in spite of setbacks. They continually remind themselves of their goals and readjust those goals as they are met. They make a commitment to train hard and follow-through no matter what.
Champions have control over themselves and yet can control only certain aspects of their performances. They know what factors they cannot control and let those go. They have practiced continuous improvement long before it became a buzzword. They learn well from themselves, from those around them and from their environment. They embrace winning, competition and reaching their potential as athletes and as persons. We can learn a tremendous amount from them.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics. He can be reached at www.sportspsychologycoaching.com
Copyright © 2005-2008 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.