An Athlete’s Internal Game in High Performance Training

To Have and to Hold: Having the tools and using the tools are two very different things

Elite Professional sports people are some of the most dedicated people on the planet.

These talented athletes place their bodies on the line, their minds into the institutionalised mill and leave the other parts of their lives on hold whilst pursuing their passions to live a life they have – until that point – only dreamed of.

These professionals live, breathe, eat, drink, sleep and commit 100% of themselves to their sport – and many coaches who have the privilege of working with people at this level also find it a very exciting life.

Outsiders could be forgiven for thinking it is a cushy existence but most sports have both a physically demanding lifestyle and a high level of social commitment (and the odd dietary bizarreness put upon them from time to time). These athletes are told where to be, when to be there and what to say and do whilst under their sporting organisation’s banner!

Often with the best intentions in mind, managers, clubs and sponsors collaborate, construct and mould a team into a highly saleable product – and the effect sometimes leaves the contract-bound athlete feeling they have little say in their careers.

This is almost a production line mentality, a process that has been fine-tuned to produce the most marketable product – and these clubs are extremely efficient at it.

That being said things don’t always go to plan. Athletes are human, their performance is sometimes not stellar, they may hit a perpetual snagging point or their motivation perhaps dwindles off the radar.

For an individual athlete going through this, an unexpected loss of direction side-swiping their focus could soon find that the wheels start falling off their dream wagon. And often with so much money on the sponsorship line, this is normally where they reach a choice point in their career:

Do they consider pulling the pin on their sport?  – or do they start personally investing in themselves to lift their game.

It’s been my experience when working in these situations we only get one shot at turning the downward spiral around to reinvigorate their sporting careers and rejuvenate their confidence. Efficiency is critical at this moment.

How quickly can an athlete in this situation turn it all around and get back on track to achieving? Well, that all depends upon the personal investment they are willing to make in themselves.

In order to be the best you have to believe you are the best and this CAN sometimes lead to some confusion as to who and what to listen to.

If they choose to fragment the process they can expect fragmented results and this can only extend the journey back.

With other people’s agendas off the table, it all comes down to how much an athlete is willing to back their faith in their mental toughness and physical ability.

One of the things I’ve found with regard to an athlete’s internal game is that at the heart of it they like to have control over their careers, their performance and their results – they are intrinsically self motivated and far more internally referenced than your average person.

So in a world where their life is constructed, mapped, structured and out of their control – their mental focus is one area where they feel they are able to totally control and own.

It is also the one area where they really need to pay attention and apply the science! To what degree they apply the tools is directly proportionate to the results they get!

Having the tools and applying the tools really are two very different things, we can only get out what we are willing to put in and by applying the right tools we can achieve great things.

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