How Do Olympic Athletes Stay Focused on The Process?
Why do you compete in your sport? What is your ultimate athletic goal?
Herm Edwards, former NFL coach, famously stated, “You play to win.”
Whether it is to win a tournament, win a race or win a gold medal, most athletes are chasing victories.
In fact, most athletic success is judged in terms of wins and losses.
So how do athletes increase their chances of winning?
Here lies the great dilemma… I often talk about how to “focus on the process” — as one of the keys to success.
The process is the steps you need to take in order to succeed which is primarily what you are doing in the moment.
How do elite athletes stay focused on the process instead of the result when the outcome is the primary reason they compete?
Ginny Thrasher, 19, became the first freshman rifle shooter to win both individual NCAA titles and earn a spot at the Rio Olympics in less than a month… and she won by focusing on the process.
THRASHER: “What’s most attractive in rifle is the mental side of the sport. Anyone can go and hit a 10, it’s not that hard. To go and shoot 10 after 10 after 10 in a big event is very hard. You have to have a mastery of the mental side, controlling your emotions, following your process and not thinking about the outcome.”
Thrasher’s commitment to work on the mental part of shooting, especially focusing on the process, has paid tremendous dividends for Thrasher including her victory at the 2015 air rifle state championship, five medals at the 2015 USA Shooting national championships and her first Olympic Games berth.
When you focus on what you need to do in the present, you experience a sense of control and mastery over your performance. For that reason, being process-orientated drastically improves your confidence and who doesn’t perform better when they are brimming with confidence?
The question is what exactly is the process that Thrasher focuses on?
Thrasher, as well as many elite shooters, focuses her attention on a very specific routine: the setup, the path of the gun to the target and the feeling of mental and physical calmness to squeeze the trigger at the precise moment.
Thrasher is heading into the 2016 Rio Olympics armed with the same proven game plan: focusing strong mental preparation for each shot and not worrying about the possible outcomes.
By focusing on the process, she will give herself the opportunity to medal in Rio.
2 Top Strategies to Stay Focused on the Process:
Strategy #1: Have the mindset that focusing on execution, one play or shot at a time, will provide you with the best approach to winning.
You do this by defining your routines and what’s important to focus on in the process.
Strategy #2: Define your routine or process. What routine or performance cues can you and will you follow that help you perform at your peak? And what is considered outcome thinking for you?
Keep in mind that no Olympian has ever won the gold medal by worrying about winning the gold medal.
The process is the yellow brick road that leads you to where you want to go.
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“First, I would like to thank you for the help you have given to me through your programs, “The Confident Athlete” and “The Focused Athlete.” I have made tremendous sacrifices though all these years to become a top Olympic Trap shooter but something was missing. This missing part was your help with my mental game. I finished both programs in 2 weeks and I started feeling the difference in my shooting. My scores increased tremendously in record time and people who trained with me told me that I was a different shooter. Then my first competition came. I shot 117/125 (personal best) and was no. 1 in the ranking. I shot 21/25 in the finals and won the competition.”
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