Bjoerndalen: The Mindset of an Olympian

Mindset for Olympians

Olympians and Mental Toughness

What’s the mindset of an Olympic champion? If you could see through the eyes of an Olympian, you could gain valuable insight as to what mental game attributes are considered essential for championship performance. Even though Olympians must have mental toughness, it’s not inborn, but instead developed over time. Mental toughness and mental skills separate Olympians from their peers and vaulted them to the most elite athletic stage.

Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, 40-years-old, has the mental make-up of a champion. Bjoerndalen became the oldest Winter Olympic champion in an individual event winning the gold medal in the 10-kilometer Biathalon sprint event in Sochi. Bjoerndalen equaled the record for Winter Olympic medals when he won the sprint event as he earned his 12th medal. The victory earned Bjoerndalen his seventh Olympic gold to add to his four silver medals and one bronze.

Bjoerndalen, known as the “Biathlon King” in Norway, is nicknamed “Cannibal” due to his hunger for success. Bjoerndalen made his Olympic debut in 1994 though he did not medal in his events. Since those Games, Bjoerndalen has consistently displayed the mindset of a Champion.

Bjoerndalen’s mentality can be summed up by his sporting philosophy outlined in his Sochi 2014 athlete bio, “grit your teeth and get the best out of yourself.”

At one point during his career, Bjoerndalen worked with a Psychology Coach to help him develop his mental skills and the mindset of a champion. It is Bjoerndalen’s mentality that has led him to be one of the greatest winter Olympians of all-time. Bjoerndalen is an innovator in his sport as his one-breath cadence between shots has cut shooting times in half.

Bjoerndalen:  The Mind of an Olympic Champion

  1. Preparation – Bjoerndalen has committed to the highest level of preparation living at high elevations in Austria and Italy instead of his homeland Norway to prepare for the altitude at the Sochi biathlon venue, “I am in super form. I prepared well for this and I am feeling strong.”
  2. Perseverance – Despite a back injury, a divorce and competition from younger Norwegian biathletes, Bjoerndalen responded positively and regained his status as Norway’s No. 2 biathlete.
  3. Passion – Bjoerndalen enjoys his sport despite the years of dedicated hard work, “You want to be the best in your sport. This sport has never been a job for me… always a hobby. I want to create my sport, always. So, yeah, I do like my sport.”
  4. Performing – Bjoerndalen’s success is not merely in his athletic skills but his ability to adjust on the fly without negatively evaluating his performance. In Sochi, despite missing a shot in the standing shooting and having to ski a 150-meter penalty loop, Bjoerndalen forged forward to win the gold medal, “It was a huge mistake at the shooting. I decided to shoot faster afterward as I knew I would still have a chance to win it.”

Do you have the mindset of an Olympian? Can you improve your mental toughness and would doing so elevate your performance or make you a more consistent? Engaging in mental coaching may be the training you need to push you to the next level.

Start your mental training and develop the mind of a champion!

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