How to Overcome the “Average” Mindset

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Do you Think of Yourself as “Just an Average Player”?

Do you feel you don’t have the talent to get to the next level?

Some athletes feel as though they have plateaued in their sport. They think they have gone as far as they can and their best days are behind them.

For some athletes, these thoughts come as early as high school. Imagine being 14 years old and thinking you are finished as an athlete. You may go on to compete until you are 18, but chances are you will be miserable and anxious every practice, game, or competition. 

Rather than trudging through four more years of being “average,” many of these athletes quit before they realize their potential.

Have you ever considered that maybe your thoughts are the problem, not your ability?

You may be just around the corner of a breakout year, but the thought “it’s over” is holding you back.

If you repeat negative messages long enough, you will begin to believe them. Belief precedes confidence, and your commitment to improvement erodes when you lack confidence.

The lack of commitment results in “average” performance, confirming what you believed in the first place. In the sport psychology world, this thought process is called “confirmation bias.” 

Confirmation bias is the tendency to use current events to support your existing beliefs.

For example, if a golfer thinks he is not good enough to make his high school golf team, every low finish in a tournament will be used as evidence that he is a below-average golfer, “I knew I was a horrible golfer.”

How do you break out of the average mindset around?

Quite simply, change your beliefs and mindset. For example, after an unfavorable performance, tell yourself, “I’m working hard. I’m going to bust out soon.”

Slanting your thoughts towards the positive improves motivation and confidence. When you change the content of your thoughts, you will be more willing to bust your butt to improve, leading to better performances.

Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena won the 2022 American League Championship Series MVP and the World Series MVP Award. Despite little experience at the major league level, Pena became the first rookie position player to be awarded the World Series MVP.

Pena stated he maintained his confidence by blocking out distractions such as negative thoughts and clearing his mind of mental clutter.

PENA: “I’d say the hardest part was just blocking everything that’s not part of the game. There’s a saying that you can’t sink a ship with water around. It sinks if water gets inside. So, I just try to stay strong and keep the water outside my head. Just keep playing my game, show up every single day, and just trust in my preparation.”

Astros’ manager Dusty Baker went a step further to state positive self-belief and enhancing self-statements are the motivating factors to reach the next level.

BAKER: “I think about the guys on the taxi squad because Pe–a was on the taxi squad this time last year. I urge them all; you don’t know. You could be next year’s Pe–a because you don’t know how close to stardom you are.”

Breaking out of the average mindset starts with believing that you have NOT maxed out your athletic potential. Keep in mind you just don’t know how close you are to breaking out!

Beating the average mindset requires challenging your current mindset by asking the following questions:

“Have I maxed out my athletic potential, or am I in a slump?”

“Am I helpless to break out, or can I work my way through it?”

“If I have the power to break out, what is my first step in the process?

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