Integrity, character, discipline, commitment, belief, confidence and perseverance are only a few of the several qualities required to achieve ones potential both physically in sport and personally in life. Don't worry champions aren't born they are built. Mental acuity like those listed above are skills that can be developed, like anything it takes practice.
One of several jobs of a coach is to help athletes learn to manage stress. While attending my advanced sports performance certification (USAW L-2) one of the things discussed was athletes arousal and peak performance. Essentially, every athlete has a certain level of stress that is optimal for peak performance. Too much stress and performance is impaired and anxiety sets in, not enough stress and an athlete becomes bored or attentiveness decreases. The challenge is that every athlete is different. Some athletes may perform better with higher levels of stress while others break down with high levels of stress.
The best way to combat any sort of debilitating stress is to create clear vision and focus for the athlete. The bigger the WHY, the more important the journey; the more focused the athlete and the easier it is to get BACK on track when stress mounts. Let me tell you something, it's not a matter of IF things will go wrong, but WHEN things will go wrong.
THE POWER OF A SINGLE WORD...
One word... pick a single word that will give you clear focus and vision. I tasked two of my athletes to do this before a fairly large competition "Under 25 Nationals". In the weeks leading up they had to pick a single word, then define what it means to them, and put it together in a word document to send to me. After a couple of revisions, you could see vulnerability, courage, focus, and resilience show up in the tone of their documents. We printed them out, framed them, and brought them with us everywhere we went. Truth ask them.
Throughout the competition the framed documents sat on their bags, or propped up on a chair in plane site. To see them read it, and carry it with them was sign enough to me that it made a difference. If you need confirmation ask them, ask them where their framed word documents are now.
Below is a "word paper" by Sam Carr that is in my opinion sensational. I asked permission to share this with you as this is for obvious reasons is personal, thanks Sam. I share this as a tool for coaches and athletes alike. Please enjoy.
BELIEVE - by Sam Carr
“BELIEVE - ALL - IS - POSSIBLE”
“Believe in yourself and all that you are.
Know that there is something inside you
that is greater than any obstacle.”
As an athlete you are always limited by what you believe is possible.
When you truly believe in yourself the sky is the limit.