Winning Comes 1st… The Dark Side of Peak Performance


coaches corner

I was listening to a podcast about the “dark side” of performance, and the crazy and often counter productive things people will do to win. It was a little cringey for me as a sport & performance psychology coach. I was in line at Starbucks, typing a “note to self” email regarding some things I had heard in the podcast and how I might blog about a better way. It that started this way:

“Winning comes…”

The phone autotyped “first,” thinking surely I wanted to say,

“winning comes first.”

This is exactly the problem I was trying to address, and even my phone has it wrong!

The belief that winning comes first is misguided.
The belief that winning is everything is misguided, too.
Winning kicks ass, and it feels great, but winning comes last.

Simmer down, and keep reading…

Winning is a byproduct of something else.

To win, you must compete.
To be competitive, you must focus effort in the right direction.

Effort comes first, always.

It is everything, always – in practice and performance. Effort doesn’t just mean to try hard.

It’s effort in the right direction.

High performance comes from executing the task at hand when the situation requires it. In training, effort must be directed the the thoughts, body sensations, and actions of those tasks,

Effort in the right direction includes:

1. Reps must be right, to count (punishment isn’t reps, by the way). They build the execution of the tasks required for one’s sport and position.
2. Intentional training near the edge of the athlete’s ability.
3. Constructive feedback on progress and performance.
4. Building repeatable mental and physical routines

If the focus is on effort in the right direction, winning will take care of itself.

A focus on effort and process creates consistent performance and influences the scoreboard in the right direction.

Focus on the winning degrades performance and influences the scoreboard in the wrong direction.

Thanks for checking this out! Dr. J

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