Characteristics of Peak Performance
How do you define peak performance?
Maybe you view peak performance as achieving a best time or personal record… Perhaps you view peak performance as beating a rival or winning a championship title.
While all these events could be peak performances, there is something more to the concept of peak performance than just winning.
“Peak performance in life isn’t about succeeding all the time or even being happy all the time. It’s often about compensating, adjusting, and doing the best you can with what you have right now.”
~Sport Psychologist Ken Ravizza
Reaching peak performance is not a sometime thing. There is not a peak performance switch you can turn on in competitions. Peak performance is a mindset that guides an athlete’s choices, decisions, and actions every day.
Peak performers are not necessarily more talented than other athletes; they just are just more committed to be their best every single day. Any athlete can reach their peak performance…
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”
~Derek Jeter (14-time MLB All-Star)
The big difference between elite athletes and average athletes is that peak performers “do” while most other athletes “hope.” Peak performers are driven to accomplish certain objectives rather than hoping that they perform well and accepting whatever result falls their way.
“If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?”
~Joe Namath (NFL Hall of Fame quarterback)
If you want to get to the peak of a mountain or perform at your peak, you must plan, climb, adjust to unfavorable conditions, then climb some more. At times, you will take a step back, get a better foothold and re-assess in order to climb to greater heights within your sport.
Peak performance requires preparation and commitment to your athletic development at every level: physical, technical, and mental on a consistent basis.
“If you only ever give 90% in training then you will only ever give 90% when it matters.”
~Michael Owen (English Football Hall of Famer)
You are not born into the peak performer club… You need to work your way in.
4 Key Characteristics of a Peak Performer’s Mindset
1. Peak performers have a vision. You can’t hit what you don’t see. Peak performers have the “big picture” in mind. Peak performers commit to their mission.
These athletes understand that in order to accomplish their objective, they will need to make some sacrifices (long hours of training, development of mental skills, missing some social events, etc.). Peak performers see their sacrifices as well worth the price for success.
What are you willing to sacrifice in order to become a peak performer?
2. Peak performers revel in the challenges of sport. Peak performers do not see obstacles as something to avoid. Peak performers understand that fire forges their character.
Peak performers see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and develop the necessary skills to accomplish bigger things within their sport. So, instead of responding to challenges with frustration, fear or anxiety, peak performers meet challenges head on with a sense of excitement.
These athletes are better able to handle adversity, adapt to the challenges within their sport and help them perform consistently at a high level.
How can you meet athletic challenges in a positive way?
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
~Fred Devito (Fitness trainer)
3. Peak performers take risks. Risking nothing is synonymous with not achieving. Peak performers are not deterred by fear of failing.
These athletes consistently look to move out of their comfort zone. Instead of playing it safe, peak performers lay it on the line even though the result may not be favorable. Peak performers live by the motto, “No risk, no reward.”
Peak performers know that an unsuccessful attempt has the reward of teaching them how to perform better and smarter in future competitions.
What prevents you from taking risks as an athlete?
“If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful!”
~Charles Barkley (NBA Hall of Fame Inductee)
4. Peak performers believe in their ability to achieve. Argue for your potential rather you’re your limits.
Failure has more to do with a lack of belief than a lack of talent. Peak performers deeply believe they will accomplish their vision.
The reason these athletes perform at their peak is their belief in their ability to overcome obstacles. Peak performers are never deterred by mistakes, losses or uneventful circumstances.
These athletes feel peak performance is within their control… it is their belief that keeps them motivated and performing at the upper range of their potential.
What do you believe about your potential as an athlete?
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does- that makes you’re a winner right there.”
~Venus Williams (Tennis Great)
How Can I Reach Peak Performance?
All athletes have the potential to become peak performers but you must be willing to plant the “P’s.”
1. Plan – You can have a vision but you can’t accomplish your objective without a plan. Running a marathon requires a detailed training plan. A plan gives you the specifics on what you need to do to perform at your peak.
2. Prepare – A plan only works if you act on your plan. If you want to raise your batting average 20 points and you decide to take 30 minutes of extra batting practice three times a week, you need to get into the batting cage and swing the bat.
3. Process – Focus on what you need to do in the moment. Don’t concern yourself with previous falls, past mistakes and unsuccessful attempts. Once a pitcher releases the ball, he needs to release the ball! Today is a new day with new opportunities to grow your game. You can only be productive in the present. Peak performance requires a “current events” focus.
4. Positive – Maintaining a positive outlook helps you persevere through tough times and overcome the everyday challenges needed to grow your game. Peak performers have faith that the right results will come if they are doing the right things.
5. Push – Go the extra mile and move out of your comfort zone. If you want to perform at your peak, you need to work both hard and smart. As tennis legend Billie Jean King once said, “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Let nothing stop you… Let nothing deter you, keep climbing towards that peak.
Tip for Becoming a Peak Performer:
You need to make a choice every day. “Do I want to be a peak performer or a bleak performer?” Then you need to be willing to make sure that your actions match your desire.
When training gets hard, keep asking yourself that question. When you make a mistake, ask yourself that question. Remember being a peak performer is not a once-in-a-while proposition.
You can have results or you can have your excuses. You cannot have both.
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