Tips From the Top

By Anna Mitchell

I am a firm believer in learning from other people’s mistakes and achievements as much as my own. Let’s take a look at what is working for those that have made it to the top and see if we can’t borrow an idea of two that might work for us as well.

Here are some tips from top athletes:

Chris Baldwin: Cycling – Winner of the gold medal in the 2003 Pan Am Games in the 50K.
–        Stay in the moment. Try a mantra like Baldwin’s, “Now, now, now.”
–        Expect ups and downs while competing. Remember that there aren’t any ups without a few downs. Hang in there through the downs and remember that they will pass. Learn to ride them out.
–        Know your limitations or weaknesses and prepare for them. Baldwin suffers more than others in the heat and humidity so he prepares for it in training and during the race.
–        Keep a comprehensive training journal. Set short- and long-term goals.
–        Get up and out the door are the same time every day.
–        Always keep in mind the end result. Visualize yourself getting on that podium to receive the gold every day.

Jeff Quinney: Golf – U.S. Amateur Champion in 2000.
–        Balance your work and athleticism, your social life and golf (sport) life.
–        Set goals for your game.
–        When you travel a lot or you have a lot of free time, you have to build structure and manage your time well to ensure that you continue to practice with quality.
–        Don’t obsess with your game. Find a balance to avoid burn out and over practicing.
–        It takes hard work, good instruction, and an early start.

Christine Clark, MD: Marathon runner – Won the 2000 U.S. Olympic trials and was awarded the only women’s marathon position on the Sydney Olympic Team.
–        Learn to manage your time effectively to maintain a balance between  your life and
your sport.
–        Learn to juggle and prioritize to ensure you have time for quality training.
–        Build a support system around you, including spouse/partner, family, and friends. This is tough to do but much tougher to do on your own.
–        Send laundry to the cleaners if your are stressed. Don’t try to do it all. Ask for help when you need it and don’t sweat the small stuff.
–        Work on your self-motivation. Sometimes there will be no one but  yourself  to drag you out of bed and out the door to train. Build your motivation from within.

Nicole Haislett-Bacher: Swimmer – Won triple gold in the 1992 Olympics
–        Learn how to sacrifice
–        Never underestimate hard work
–        Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t get caught up in fad.
–        Nutrition is very important. If you want the best from your body you have to treat it right.
–        Stay with the basics; stay with the fundamentals.
–        Be tough mentally, take criticism, and look in the mirror each day and remind yourself that you can handle anything that comes your way.

Pete Sampras: Tennis – Turned pro at age 16. Won the U.S. Open Championship at age 19 and was ranked the No. 1 tennis player in the world in 1994.
–        Know thyself. Know that you have the compete power to win or you can choose to lose.
–        Take control of a competitive situation. Know your strengths and weaknesses of your performance.
–        Be realistic about your goals; don’t expect too much too soon.
–        Find a coach/trainer who works for you. Don’t be afraid to change coaches/trainers if the fit is not a good one.

These are just a few who have excelled in their particular sport. The point is that it doesn’t matter what your sport is; the recipe is relatively similar. Winning takes more than just talent and guts. It takes balance, persistence, management and strategy. It’s not enough to just play hard, you also have to play smart. What is your game plan and how will it help you get to the top?

Is stress bringing your performance down?