Sports Psychology: Inside the Mind of Champion Athletes

PSC Reader Reaction..

The notion of how a champion’s behavior may in fact differ from the average participant is more complex than I could have imagined.  I never quite realized how much goes into a player’s composure prior to the start of an event.  This is made especially intriguing with the onset of the 2016 Olympics and the constant coverage of athletes at each stage of the event.

One of the most intriguing aspects I found from this video is the idea that I could personally connect with is the idea of a person becoming overconfident in their abilities and losing focus and determination once they are challenged in a way they did not expect.  In my understanding, this internal defeat seems to be caused just as much by the opposing team’s performance as from the athletes themselves.


I find that the segments which highlighted the concepts of anxiety management and goal setting to be of the greatest value.  Everyone must deal with the effects of anxiety, no matter what walk of life they take.  It is all in how a person is able to manage these levels of anxiety that proves their worthiness as either a champion or just another player on the field.

Goal setting is another area where the average person may find a connection to this presentation.  The management of a person’s goals and how they work to achieve them can really determine potential failure or success later on.  Making ill informed goals or claims based upon your perceived abilities can be the ruin of anyone.


This presentation does well to highlight how success and failure can be reached and what the best in the world do when they find themselves at both extremes.


The Psychology of a Great Athlete


The Psychology of a Great Athlete

From Visually.


This infographic breaks down the key components of a great athlete into six distinct categories: drive, volition, confidence, focus, calm, and emotional control.



This is the quality by which an athlete trains as hard as they can each day not just because they want to do better, but because they truly love what they do.

I see this as being of value for everyday use in that the things we love to do, we tend to do better and with greater care and desire to succeed.  If a person hates to cook, they will only do the bare minimum when it comes to cooking and will not take the extra steps to ensure the dish comes out as well as it could.



This is basically self motivation at its simplest level.  A champion level athlete will spend hours preparing themselves for their next game.  At each step, they are making the decision to do what they can to improve themselves both mentally and physically.  These are decisions that may not be readily apparent in the moment of competition, though anyone who knows what playing at this level entails is undoubtedly aware of the long hours put in before hand.



If you are able to rightly say that you believe in yourself and in your own abilities, you will have a greater chance at success.  Anyone who already considers a match to be finished before the last bell rings has already lost no matter the score.


If you choose not to believe in yourself, you will undoubtedly only latch onto the setbacks and misfortunes in life.  By only focusing on these, you are clearly setting yourself up for disappointment and future setbacks.  People who rightly understand what they are capable of and work to live up to these levels of ability will succeed at a far greater rate than the others.



Staying cool under pressure is a skill that only the best can master.  Anxiety is a part of life that exists at every level.  It is how a person handles their anxiety that determines how they will fair in the next match.

There are a lot of skills people can use to help them stay cool under pressure.  Listening to music and meditation are two of the biggest ones that can be of use to many people who face stressful situations, no matter if they are on a field or in a boardroom.

There are a number of detrimental effects that a lack of composure can begin to have over time.  If an athlete does well in managing their composure, they will likewise help to ensure a greater playing potential and better performance over the long term.



Everyone can get lucky from time to time and display a reflex that makes them appear well skilled at a particular task.  A true champion is one who knows the requirements of a movement, has practiced it relentlessly, and has the confidence to perform it under pressure.

Focus can take many shapes, but it is best understood as a person’s ability to concentrate within when the outside world is screaming your name.  Champions, no matter the sport, must endure the distractions that comes with being a star.

Everyone watches their movements from the moment they show up to the final seconds of the game.  If an athlete is able to shut out these external stressors and focus on what they truly arrived to do, they are giving themselves a greater chance for success overall.


Emotional Control:

It is easy to fall victim to an overwhelming emotion.  You react out of sadness or out of anger and behave in a way that is typically not you.  Stressful situations cause many of us to lose site of our intended purposes and it is in how we react and work through these situations that we teach ourselves emotional control.

The trouble with emotional control in regards to athletes is that many times athletes are placed in highly stressful situations with others who are also experiencing these challenges.  When you have a group of people who are all having to suppress and do their best to master the overwhelming forces they are experiencing, it can become a challenge.  One person blowing up can in turn cause others to react in the same way.  These lapses are all it takes to take a champion off their game.

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