How Elite Athletes Move on From the Past

How Elite Athletes Move on From the Past

Do Mistakes and Losses Affect you Mentally?

Are you still reliving a past game or a disappointing season?

Nothing hurts performance quite as much as reliving mistakes, bad games, or unfortunate results.

Focusing on yesterday or even the last minute interferes with your ability to pay attention to the present. When your attention is divided between the past and present, you neglect to put your full focus, energy, and effort into what you could do now to succeed.

Since you cannot turn back the clock and have a “redo,” you must focus on performing your best in the moment.

The reality of success is that success only happens in the present.

Let’s look at the following baseball example.

Suppose you were a baseball pitcher who missed the catcher’s target and instead threw the ball right over the heart of the plate. The hitter crushed the ball for a homerun to tie the game in the latter innings.

The next inning, you can’t stop thinking about your mistake. You fear giving up another run. Your lack of focus continually causes you to miss the strike zone, and you walk the first two hitters.

Rather than reliving the homerun, you can do one of two things:

  • You could let the mistake go, “There is nothing I can do about the last inning. I will focus on the pitch the catcher calls for and throw strikes.”
  • The other solution is to understand what happened. “I dropped my arm angle,” and trust your ability to make the adjustment.

The Philadelphia Eagles lost the 2023 Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-35. Rather than reliving the loss, the Eagles have committed to focus solely on the upcoming season. 

It would be easy to ruminate about giving up sacks, losing a third-quarter lead, missed tackles, or penalties. However, the Eagles understand that their best chance of success is to stay focused on the current year.

Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown summed up the team’s mindset for the upcoming year.

BROWN: “It is unfortunate we didn’t win [the Super Bowl], but you gotta move on. You gotta get up off the mat. It takes courage to get off the mat and get back to work, to start over, but that’s where we are, and that’s what we’re doing.”

You can let go of the past and set your focus for the present by:

  • Adjusting your mindset – See the past as a learning opportunity.
  • Set a clear, specific objective – Knowing what to focus on in the moment or having clearly defined goals prevents you from reliving past mistakes.
  • Devote yourself to the process – Commit yourself to putting in the mental and physical work needed to achieve your present objectives or goals.

Athletes on the road toward goal attainment have no time for the past. It is what you do NOW that helps you reach your goals.

Tip for Moving On From the Past:

After every performance, write down two things you did well that day, two things that could have gone better, and how you are going to work on those the next practice.

Giving yourself a plan of action going forward helps you learn from the past mistakes and directs your focus on the future.

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