The ultimate gameday preparation secret!
By Michael Chiovitti – Sport Scientist at Sports Performance Tracking
Olympic level athletes, world champion boxers, AFL footballers, A-League stars…
In an era where every developing athlete (and coach) is looking to ‘borrow’ the training routines and habits from sports high-achievers, I regularly get asked about whether a commonality exists between the successful athletes that I’ve coached over the years. It took me over a decade, and many conversations with colleagues, to isolate two specific elements which I believe lay at the centre of athletic excellence.
As we know, there is no single athletic quality, skill, personality trait, training program or piece of technology which is exclusively responsible for producing sporting success. Every athlete possesses a bank of unique physical and psychological qualities which allow them to be effective within their chosen field. However, these two specific qualities have been standout traits for the likes of Sam Soliman (IBF Middleweight World Champion) and Rodrigo Vargas (Melbourne Victory star).
Self-Awareness; The Ability to Monitor & Thoroughly Evaluate
Successful athletes all have the ability to self-assess their own performance without getting caught up by their ego or the perceptions of the people around them. Rather than looking for excuses to justify a bad game or ungratefully accepting the outcome of a good performance, they reflect specifically on the details of their preparation. In some cases, especially with Sam, it can take a lifetime of self-assessment to isolate the exact approach to training and pre-game/fight routine which produces the best physical outcomes. Regardless, the best athletes have all painstakingly reviewed their own behaviours and routines to identify what their unique preparation process needs to be every week. That may relate to training type, training volume/intensity, diet or sleep quality leading into competition. The majority of successful athletes are extremely in-tune with what makes them tick. Many of them use journals, diaries or monitoring systems to track their preparation as a way of retrospectively assessing whether something could’ve been done better.
A Growth Mindset; The Willingness to Understand Failure & Find Opportunity
For athletes with a growth mindset, there is no such thing as a ‘weakness’, there are only opportunities for improvement. For successful athletes and sporting teams, physical performance shortfalls or tactical deficiencies are embraced as a great opportunity to become better. Gaps in your skillset or physical capabilities (strength, speed, endurance) should be appreciated as an untapped opportunity to improve your overall performance. Finding a new opportunity to improve will motivate people with a growth mindset to get to cracking! Alternatively, people with a fixed mindset will perceive ‘weaknesses’ as an uncontrollable limitation that will always restrict their ability to be the best they can be. The take-home message is simple; your strengths will always be your strengths, but your weaknesses don’t have to be permanent, unless you allow them to be. Accurately identifying your ‘weaknesses’ through testing and monitoring is only half the battle, the athlete must be open to accepting that information and applying that new knowledge to their training/preparation in an effective way.
An athlete’s natural ability may get them to the top, but their willingness to constantly better themselves is what will keep them there. Athletes who can clearly see the opportunity that lies within a weakness or performance shortfall will not only have the ability to accommodate and adapt, they will enjoy the process of systematically focusing their attention on one specific part of their development until they’re satisfied with the change in performance.
Successful athletes can clearly identify the weakness or physical obstacle (using an analysis or monitoring tool), which can allow them to then create an action plan to overcome that weakness and effectively implement their plan until that obstacle becomes a stepping stone for future progress.
Whether it’s GPS monitoring or a basic performance journal – track your preparation, objectively sell-assess your performance and create an action plan to address your shortfalls… a recipe for success both on and off the sporting field.