Winning and your mind

Rowden 2011

Doubt is the prime cause of failure in sport. Every time you doubt and fail, failure is reinforced and the next time failure is more likely. Therefore you have to trick the mind even when failure is almost inevitable! The true professional cannot afford to listen to self-doubt because he knows how destructive this will be. He must therefore create a mind that is resistant to uncertainty and doubt.

Even in situations where it is almost certain he/she will lose, the top athlete must be totally positive. The purpose of performance psychology is to teach the sportsperson to believe he/she can win. Doubt is toxic to the athlete and must be controlled by whatever means possible.

In order to perform way above your maximum you must believe beyond, over and above logic and what is reasonable. Your belief in your own abilities must be absolute and you must be able to communicate this belief to your opponent by your body language! You must accept that the impossible can be possible and even normal. What you must also understand is that winning is a habit, the more you win the more your self-belief will be reinforced and the more your competitors will find it difficult to sustain theirs.

We are not concerned here with how logical, rational or even truthful our beliefs may be but only that they produce the desired results! As Jonathan Edwards the record-breaking triple jumper has stated: ‘My faith was pivotal to my success. Believing in something beyond the self can have a hugely beneficial psychological impact, even if the belief is fallacious’. It is the ability to rise above the anxieties, the doubts and the tensions, which differentiates the top athlete from the rest and it is the lack of this ability which cripples so many performers. What is crucial is the capacity to believe what is effective, not what is necessarily true.

The key point of course is that the power of the mind is harnessed through some sort of belief and whether this is true or false is immaterial. It is the belief that is important, not the content. If we believe that we are likely to fail, then our subconscious mind will in fact create the situation which supports this and will help us to fail. If on the other hand we believe we are going to succeed, we probably will. Our subconscious mind gets to work to support our endeavours.

Work to strengthen your self-belief:
• Tell yourself every day that you are better than you think you are. Success does not need a big talent and is not based on luck; it only requires hard work in the right direction and environment and enough time. Build up a log of your successes each day however small. Have your major achievements, milestones and goals written down and refer to them often. Never express your doubts and anxieties, always look on the positive side.
• Set your goals high and think big. People say you usually get what you expect, so never think little, only big.
• Focus always on success and never failure. Thinking success opens up your mind and makes it more receptive to new ideas. This also helps to create internally thoughts which produce more success. When you see an opportunity always think you can, never that you can’t. Thinking positively will produce conditions which will help you to succeed.
• Try to avoid being with negative people who want to bring you down. It’s important that you gravitate towards people who are winners, always positive and forward looking.