What Is The Mindset Of An Olympic Champion?
What does a champion think about when competing? How do they approach training sessions? What separates an Olympic Champion from an average athlete? As the 2014 Olympics conclude, many of us are in awe of the athletes’ talent and raw physical attributes. But for every Olympian, there are many others who possess talents and physical stature that do not make it to the elite level in their sport.
While talent is important, there is one thing that is the difference-maker for Olympic Champions… it is their “mindset.” A “mindset” is attitudes, confidence, and focus that an athlete has developed, which shape how he approaches a situation. Call it mental toughness… Though the fruits of an athlete’s mindset are seen in competition, it is cultivated in training sessions, practices, and how an athlete responds to mistakes. In essence, an athlete’s mindset follows them everywhere he or she goes and, in turn, affects everything he or she does.
American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, who is 18 years old, became the youngest Olympic slalom champion when she won the women’s event at the 2014 Sochi Games. Shiffrin also became the first American to win the slalom event in 42 years. Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in 2011 and won her first World Championship title in slalom in 2013. What can we learn about her mindset that can help others perform?
Shiffrin is a very skilled skier, but has achieved success at an early age due her “mindset” and her daily approach to practice and competition. Shiffrin’s mindset is that success is made through a series of daily small steps and always learning from mistakes, “You can create your own miracle. But you do it by never looking past all the little steps along the way.”
Shiffrin had a comfortable lead after her first run in the women’s slalom competition at the Sochi Games. During her second run, Shiffrin had a near fall on the icy snow and her lead over second place fell from 1.19sec to 0.59sec with just one slipup. Shiffrin quickly rebounded and skied a near flawless bottom section to win the gold medal. You could see her just relying on instinct and her practice to adjust.
A fall on the last run could have taken Shiffrin out of medal contention. Shiffrin’s mindset was to quickly assess the course and stay focused on what she needed to do to win. “I’ve made that recovery in practice a hundred times, if not more. So I said, ‘You know what to do – charge back into the course’.” Shiffrin did not panic but reacted with the reassurance that she had been in this situation before and made a great recovery to get back on track. Shiffrin has cultivated the mindset of a champion, which resulted in her record-setting performance at the Sochi Games.
In order to develop the mindset of a champion like Shiffrin, please realize that success is a process of action, evaluation, and adjustment. She was able to trust her skills under immense pressure and during adversity. If she panics in that moment, she finishes out of the medals. You must understand that learning to anticipate and cope with mistakes in practice will help you react to adversity in competition.
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