What are the Top 10 Mental Challenges at the Sochi Olympics?February 6, 2014
The world’s best winter sports athletes will be competing in Sochi, Russia, for 17 riveting days from February 7th through February 23rd. The Olympians have put in thousands of hours and years of deliberate practice to master their sports and qualify for the 2014 Games. How can participants make sure their performance peaks when it matters most under the Olympic spotlight?
In my new book The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive, Duncan Armstrong, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, vividly explains the challenge: “When you get to the Olympics and represent your country, you’re not just facing athletes who have prepared for the past twelve months, 2 years, 4 years, or even 10 years. You’re facing highly motivated, very talented, uncompromising, and deadly serious people who have dreamed and prepared for this particular event their whole lives!”
Below are the top 10 mental challenges all athletes must deal with to put themselves in the best position for a winning performance:
1. Welcoming the Olympic opportunity and challenge rather than fearing it.
2. Having confidence in themselves and their athletic ability during crunch time.
3. Transforming the pre-performance jitters from a panicky to a pumped state.
4. Maintaining positive communication with teammates, coaches, and family.
5. Demonstrating discipline by sticking to pre-performance and in-performance routines.
6. Keeping intensity at the optimal level—not too high, but not too low.
7. Focusing on their mission in the face of major distractions.
8. Overlooking any mistakes and missteps promptly, in order to stay on target.
9. Performing with purpose and passion rather than becoming too serious and uptight.
10. Being present in the moment—not anticipating what the outcome might be.
By overcoming these 10 mental challenges, participants will attain the optimal mental and emotional state for the competition. They will beat their opponents, and not themselves.
The aim for all Olympians is to fulfill their true and full potential during the Games. In order to reach the top of the medal stand, it is essential for athletes to allow their bodies and minds to do what they have been trained and coached to do. All it takes is all they’ve got. Let the Sochi Games begin!
Dr. Jim Afremow is a leading mental coach, licensed professional counselor, and the author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive (Rodale, January 2014). He is the founder of Good to Gold Medal, PLLC, a leading sports psychology coaching and consulting practice located in Phoenix, Arizona.