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The "Winning Is Everything" Mindset

Updated on August 18, 2017
Purches Power profile image

Purches Power is a competitive drug free bodybuilder, and a qualified gym instructor with a diploma in Sports Psychology.

Winning Is Everything

The “Winning Is Everything” psychology is something that elite sports participants must have as part of their toolkit to go with the skills and physical advantages they possess.

With it comes sacrifice and hard work. The athlete must accept this in order to achieve the highest sporting heights. A novice can have an amazing game, an intermediate can have an amazing season, but an elite athlete with a winning mind can have an amazing career.

Source

First To Practice, Last To Leave

The careers of most sports people is short and over relatively quickly when compared with non sporting careers. A gymnasts career for instance can be over before the athlete is out of their teenage years. Knowing this the athlete must apply an unwavering commitment to their chosen path. We often hear of top sports stars who are the “first to practice and last to leave the gym”, these are the athletes most likely to succeed. They don’t necessarily have to enjoy the work but they desire the results and the accolades that come with that success.

The flipside of the “Winning Is Everything” mentality is that it can compound failure in some athletes and could be a reason some may drop out or others to not take up sport in the first place. A good coach will ascertain the athlete’s reasons for participation. If as in the instance of most teens the reason is affiliation and not results based then that would need to be addressed and the program designed to suit the athletes needs.

Source

Learn From Mistakes

If it is the athlete’s desire for results and winning then inevitably there will be some failures along the path to success. The coach’s job in this situation is to find the positive from the failure and help the athlete deal with it in order to progress. In his book “Black Box Thinking” Michael Syed argues that failure can have an enlightening experience and that one cannot grow without learning from it.

Elite athletes have learnt or have an innate ability to learn quickly from mistakes, not dwell on them and move on towards further progress.

Win At All Costs

The “Winning Is Everything” attitude is frowned upon and discouraged in some circles, most prevalent of recent times is that some schools are adopting a “no winner, non competitive” sports day. Which brings with it the argument can it really be titled a “sports” day given that sport requires a winner or result.

The English Football Association has gone as far as prohibiting under 7’s and under 11’s football teams from publishing results and league tables. In a press release in 2012 they stated:

“Our ambition is for football to be progressive and child friendly and to move away from the “win at all costs” mentality that has been recognized to stifle development and enjoyment in sport."

There are many that would argue that is exactly this kind of thinking that has resulted in the national football team’s poor results. Most notably the recent loss to Iceland in the Euro 2016 Championship which many pundits called “the worst tournament performance ever” and “embarrassing."

Source

The Role Of The Coach

The role of the coach is to create and harness the “winning mind” through motivational techniques and mentoring. This role is not to be underestimated, there are many instances where an athlete at the peak of their career has changed their long standing coach for a newer coach only to see their performance quickly nosedive. It could be argued the long standing coach has an insight into the athletes mind whereas the newer coach can only know of their performances and will have no understanding of the athletes psychology. This can lead to the difference between winning and losing at the top level.

Cus D’Amato famously took a raw street thug in Mike Tyson and turned the young man’s negative mind into a positive, strong thinking fight machine. Through his excellent coaching and mentoring he turned around a young criminal destined for a life behind bars to become the youngest Heavyweight Champion in history. Tysons positvie thinking became so strong he titled himself “ The baddest man on the planet." It is very notable that after D’Amato’s death that both Tyson’s career and life spiraled out of control to inevitable losses in the ring and to his later incarceration.

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson | Source

Hard Work

In order to create the winning mind the coach must create the right atmosphere for success using all means available to them, e.g. venues, equipment, research. They must give honest feedback at times of failure or poor performance. They will instill in the athlete the need for hard work and dedication as well as planning realistic goals. The coach should emphasise that the short term sacrifices such as missing out on social events and parties (especially hard for the young athlete) will reap benefits in the long term. The success will outweigh the sacrifices made, especially where the rewards in some sports can be hugely financially rewarding.

Equally the athlete must put in the effort required. Not just physically but psychologically using the tools the coach may have given , e.g. meditation, visualization. They must be prepared to work hard and dedicate themselves to the goal no matter how talented they may be. They must always have an excellent work ethic. As is often quoted “hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard”.

Vince Lombardi. “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Tunnel Vision

The coach can help the athlete achieve focus and tunnel vision , even if this may make the athlete appear aloof, selfish and to have a stoic attitude. The best athletes rely on a small group of trusted individuals, everybody else must be surplus to requirements whilst progressing toward an important event or competing. This of course can change during “off season” or when away from the sporting arena.

As well as extreme focus the athlete can also help themselves by avoiding negative self talk and using positivity techniques such as mental imagery and visualization. As well as relaxation techniques like meditation.

Act Like A Champion

The Winning is Everything mind can also be achieved by the athlete increasing their confidence in themselves, one way to do this is to behave like a champion. Not just in the sporting arena but outside it too. The coach can encourage the athlete to “fake it until you make it”, the athlete not only focuses on their skill levels and the program but they can also improve the way they are perceived by others. They can “behave like a champion”. One of the best examples of this would be basketball mega star Michael Jordan. Jordan always arrived at a game wearing a suit and tie, whilst all the others in the team arrived wearing baggy track suits, each one sloppier than the last. He also arrived at the venue in a freshly cleaned car and although he was the only athlete given permission to park inside the arena he parked in the outdoor car park and walked through the crowd. Why he did this? His answer ... “ticket prices are beyond the means of most fans and this might be the only chance they ever got to see him”.

“The performance” started for Jordan the moment he left his house until the time he returned home or arrived back at the hotel.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan | Source

The Foundation of Success

Acting in a confident manner not only nurtures a winning mentality and will make the athlete feel confident in themselves. It also conveys that confidence to those they meet, be it the public or opponents, this will lead to respect and possibly a winning edge over an opponent.

In conclusion the “winning is everything” mentality is needed by the athlete if they wish to join the elite in their chosen field. This can be achieved through an honest and equal relationship between the coach and athlete in which both know what is required of the other. They are committed to the goals and they not only meet challenges but embrace them. They turn faults into motivation and build on their strengths through repeated hard work.

The athlete and coach should be judicious in eliminating undue influences. Equally they should be curious and innovative when it comes to seeking out new knowledge and insights from other sources.

A values based, purpose driven relationship is the foundation of “winning is everything”.

First To Practice, Last To Leave

The careers of most sports people is short and over relatively quickly when compared with non sporting careers, a gymnasts career for instance can be over before the athlete is out of their teenage years. Knowing this the athlete must apply an unwavering commitment to their chosen path. We often hear of top sports stars who are the “first to practice and last to leave the gym”, these are the athletes most likely to succeed. They don’t necessarily have to enjoy the work but they desire the results and the accolades that come with that success.

Learn From Your Mistakes

The flipside of the “Winning Is Everything” mentality is that it can compound failure in some athletes and could be a reason some may drop out or others to not take up sport in the first place. A good coach will ascertain the athlete’s reasons for participation, if as in the instance of most teens the reason is affiliation and not results based then that would need to be addressed and the programme designed to suit the athletes needs.

If it is the athlete’s desire for results and winning then inevitably there will be some failures along the path to success, the coach’s job in this situation is to find the positive from the failure and help the athlete deal with it in order to progress. In his book “Black Box Thinking” Michael Syed argues that failure can have an enlightening experience and that one cannot grow without learning from it.

Elite athletes have learnt or have an innate ability to learn quickly from mistakes, not dwell on them and move on towards further progress.

Source

This Mindset Can Be Frowned Upon

The “Winning Is Everything” attitude is frowned upon and discouraged in some circles, most prevalent of recent times is that some schools are adopting a “no winner, non competitive” sports day. Which brings with it the argument can it really be titled a “sports” day given that sport requires a winner or result.

The English Football Association has gone as far as prohibiting under 7’s and under 11’s football teams from publishing results and league tables, in a press release in 2012 they stated:

“Our ambition is for football to be progressive and child friendly and to move away from the “win at all costs” mentality that has been recognised to stifle development and enjoyment in sport”.

There are many that would argue that is exactly this kind of thinking that has resulted in the national football team’s poor results, most notably the loss to Iceland in the Euro 2016 Championship which many pundits called “the worst tournament performance ever” and “embarrassing”.

Source

The Role Of The Coach

The role of the coach is to create and harness the “winning mind” through motivational techniques and mentoring, this role is not to be underestimated, there are many instances where an athlete at the peak of their career has changed their long standing coach for a newer coach only to see their performance quickly nosedive. It could be argued the long standing coach has an insight into the athletes mind whereas the newer coach can only know of their performances and will have no understanding of the athletes psychology and this can lead to the difference between winning and losing at the top level.

Cus D’Amato famously took a raw street thug in Mike Tyson and turned the young man’s negative mind into a positive, strong thinking fight machine. Through his excellent coaching and mentoring he turned around a young criminal destined for a life behind bars to become the youngest Heavyweight Champion in history and the self titled “Baddest Man on the Planet”. It is very notable that after D’Amato’s death that both Tyson’s career and life spiralled out of control to inevitable losses in the ring and to his later incarceration.

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson | Source

Sacrifices

In order to create the winning mind the coach must create the right atmosphere for success using all means available to them, e.g. venues, equipment, research. They must give honest feedback at times of failure or poor performance. They will instill in the athlete the need for hard work and dedication as well as planning realistic goals. The coach should emphasize that the short term sacrifices such as missing out on social events and parties (especially hard for the young athlete) will reap benefits in the long term and the success will outweigh the sacrifices made, especially where the rewards in some sports can be hugely financially rewarding.

Equally the athlete must put in the effort required, not just physically but psychologically using the tools the coach may have given , e.g. meditation, visualisation. They must be prepared to work hard and dedicate themselves to the goal no matter how talented they may be, they must always have an excellent work ethic. As is often quoted “hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard”.

"Winning is not everything, but making the effort to win is" Vince Lombardi

Behave Like A Champion

The Winning is Everything mind can also be achieved by the athlete increasing their confidence in themselves, one way to do this is to behave like a champion, not just in the sporting arena but outside it too. The coach can encourage the athlete to “fake it until you make it”, the athlete not only focuses on their skill levels and the programme but they can also improve the way they are perceived by others and “behave like a champion”. One of the best examples of this would be basketball mega star Michael Jordan. Jordan always arrived at a game wearing a suit and tie, whilst all the others in the team arrived wearing baggy track suits, each one sloppier than the last. He also arrived at the venue in a freshly cleaned car and although he was the only athlete given permission to park inside the arena he parked in the outdoor car park and walked through the crowd. Why he did this? His answer ... “ticket prices are beyond the means of most fans and this might be the only chance they ever got to see him”.

“The performance” started for Jordan the moment he left his house until the time he returned home or arrived back at the hotel.

Acting in a confident manner not only nurtures a winning mentality and will make the athlete feel confident in themselves but it also conveys that confidence to those they meet, be it the public or opponents, this will lead to respect and possibly a winning edge over an opponent.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan | Source

Conclusion

In conclusion the “winning is everything” mentality is needed by the athlete if they wish to join the elite in their chosen field. This can be achieved through an honest and equal relationship between the coach and athlete in which both know what is required of the other, are committed to the goals and they not only meet challenges but embrace them. They turn faults into motivation and build on their strengths through repeated hard work.

The athlete and coach should be judicious in eliminating undue influences, equally they should be curious and innovative when it comes to seeking out new knowledge and insights from other sources.

A values based, purpose driven relationship is the foundation of “winning is everything”.

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