Success or Failure...What is Your Athlete's Focus?

At Winner's Edge Kids we teach that how your athlete thinks will directly determine his level of success on the playing field. Therefore the critical question is what kinds of thoughts does he have? Does he focus her thoughts on seeing success or expecting failure?

Scientists claim that we each have in excess of 50,000 thoughts each day bombarding our minds. As with your athlete the quality of those thoughts has enormous impact on the life any of us experience. Our thoughts have immense power to create the conditions that show up in our lives, so we all must choose our thoughts wisely.

For a teenager, speaking as both a father and mental skills expert, it can be a hard sell to convince her that she has control over her thoughts, but in truth she does. If she does not control her thoughts, as I am prone to preach to my own daughter, then tell me who dies and I will have a talk with them!

If your athlete's dominant thoughts are on failure as he steps into the batters box or to the free throw line, or in a PK situation his likelihood for success is slim. You see the reality is that dominant  "can't do" thoughts over the course of a day could amount to thousands of negative thoughts that reinforce her belief system that he cannot succeed. Now imagine the power of those repetitive thoughts over a period of days or weeks or worse. We're talking about potentially 100,000s of thoughts telling his subconscious mind and body that he cannot do it.

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[Remember, your athlete may be supremely confident about certain parts of her game, but lacking confidence in other parts of her game. This post is addressing the elements of her game she worries about most and has exhibited a poor performance record with.]

This avalanche of negativity creates a virtual wall in his mind preventing him from success. And each subsequent failure or result less than desired will only reinforce his beliefs that he is not good enough or cannot complete a task successfully. His future failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Likewise if your athlete's dominant thoughts are on success she will likely have a much higher probability of achieving that success on the field. Why? The mind-body connection we all have dictates that the mind tells the body what to do. If the mind is positive and filled with the expectancy for success the body will perform optimally because the mind is in a relaxed state and focused in the present moment and on the task at hand.

If your athlete is engaged in negative thinking his mind will be in turmoil, exhibiting high levels of anxiety and fear. This chemical reaction in the body brought on by perpetual negative "can't do" thinking will show up in the body as lack of focus (engaged in future or past focus: "Oh gosh, I struck out against this pitcher last game, I'll probably do it again."), dry mouth, sweaty palms, excessive adrenalin, increased pulse rate, reduced reaction time, and reduced visual acuity. This expectancy for failure creates a dramatically devastating effect on the body and the performance results are predictably poor.

The bottom line is what is your athlete thinking? Does he focus on success (through positive thinking and mental imagery) or does he focus on failure (through negative thinking and catastrophizing)? The choice is always his, although he is likely unaware of it. As an adult you can help him to become more conscious of the power his thinking has to determine his athletic success.