Advice for Young Athletes
By Allistair McCaw
Advice for Young Athletes
Dear young athletes: The one thing that’s holding you back the most, is this…Mindset . FACT:You are NOT going to play well (or the way you’d like to) every time you step out to compete. In other word’s: How good are you on your ‘bad days’?, How do you respond when it’s not going to plan?– Because that’s what it comes down to. Here’s a great quote I read:“In the heat of battle (competition), you don’t rise to your level, you sink to the habits you have created in your practices”. I love this statement because it’s so true. I keep telling the athletes i train or consult, that you become your habits under pressure. So, they better be good ones!
I just read a piece on former French Open champion Gaston Gaudio. This is what he said:“Most of the time you don’t play the way you want, things don’t go the way that you would like to, so you have to manage that”.
—-Key word: “Manage” (Mindset management)
I worked with Graeme Smith, The South African cricket captain a few years back and he said to me: “I know I’m not going to play the want to every time, but I can control how I’m going to think about it”. Here’s the reality my dear young athletes:That in a 365 day year, you will have more days that you ARE NOT going to be playing to your expectations and how you’d like to.Can you accept playing the way you’d want to (in the zone) only 10-20% of the time? – because that’s the reality.
Great athletes are great, not because they have brilliance, but because they are more self accepting of their mistakes and are consistent in their habits. That’s the reason they’ve won some of their biggest matches and tournaments playing far less from their best.
My good friend and top coach Sven Groneveld once said: “To win a Slam (7 matches) it’s almost impossible that you will play great every match. You will play maybe 2, even 3 ‘less than great’ matches”. In my experience of working with athletes, I’ve found that it’s those with perfectionist like personalities who are most likely to impede their performances by not accepting that they aren’t playing as well as they’d like to.They end up letting matches slip away purely on being inertly frustrated that they aren’t playing the way they would like to.
Here’s 6 tips on what a successful athlete does:
1. A successful athlete accepts that they aren’t going to play their best every time they step onto the court, track or playing field.
2. They understand that success doesn’t lie in a one-off upset against a big player or just having a few good results. It lies in consistent control of their habits, emotions and mindset.
3. A successful athlete understands that in order to win on their ‘bad’ days, they need to always give their best and believe they can actually win.
4. A successful athlete doesn’t spend their time comparing themselves or current level to their greatest ever performance.
5. The success of an athlete lies in their ability to play ‘just well enough’ to pull out a win on that day. They understand it gives them another day and chance to make it better! They learn from it (Growth mindset).
6. They don’t ruin their chances of winning or playing better (even when playing poorly) by letting a negative or bad attitude get in the way. They keep fighting until the end. Accept that you aren’t going to play great every time you step out to compete, and remember:“You don’t rise to your level, you sink to the habits you have created in your practices”.