Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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Exploring sport coaching and psychology

4 Champions talk

In this activity you will hear from champions about what they think has made themselves successful.

Activity 3 What makes champions successful?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the following video and try to identify its main messages. You may find it helpful to listen for the two most commonly used words.

Download this video clip.Video player: Champions talk: what makes a champion?
Skip transcript: Champions talk: what makes a champion?

Transcript: Champions talk: what makes a champion?


Being a champion athlete is about behaving like a champion every day, not just when there's thousands of people in the stadium cheering you on, TV cameras, you know, medals to win. It's about getting up in the morning, and whether there's someone there to stand over you or not, you have to behave like a champion. So it's the discipline and training. It's the focus for day after day, month after month, year after year, to become an Olympic champion at the end of a four-year cycle.
I'd probably say the overarching theme would be just a drive. So you've got to want to get better and you've got to be willing to work. You've got to be able to be evaluative, so you've got to be able to look at your flaws and not get offended if somebody points out you're not very good at that, because you've got to understand that they're trying to help you. And you've got to want to improve all your weaknesses and just continuously work hard all year around, apart from a little break period. But yeah, continuously work hard all year round. Being a champion is more of a lifestyle than a part-time thing.
To be the all-around champion, I think you need to obviously have ability in the beginning. I think you have to have a ruthless discipline inside you to just be focused on being the best you can possibly be. And then obviously, I think there's also the side of just having the right temperament and being able to manage your emotions, if you like, when you're out there playing.
I think what sets those serial winners apart from other people is they have great mental strength. Especially in terms from a jockey's point of view, you have a lot of injuries, spend a lot of time in hospital, and you have to have the mental strength to get through that. And obviously, it's a physical thing, but it's a mental thing that will make you come back quicker.
I think to become a serial champion you have to have a little bit of a twinkle in your eye, a bit between your teeth of an ambition to make a career out of something. And I guess there's some of us that are that sort of makeup, that we want something that's even more challenging than the most difficult challenge. And for me, it was the idea that you could be a serial winner. And I guess I've probably milked it now, as well.
Most of the time when you step on the start line for an elite final, the physiology-- the physical aspects-- of every single one of your competitors you're pretty much on a par. But the psychological side of it is that the mental toughness, the ability to cope with pressure, or not even see that pressure as being pressure, that stands you out and makes you the winner at the end of that race.
At the end of the day, when I look back on my career, I was able to break the world records and win the medals, and win only gold medals, because I wasn't just focused on winning the gold medal. I wasn't going into training each day and saying to myself, OK, so now what time do I think it's going to take for me to become a gold medalist? I went to training every day asking myself, how fast do I really think I can run? How strong can I get? How powerful am I capable of being? It takes a tremendous amount of commitment, dedication, and sacrifice.
End transcript: Champions talk: what makes a champion?
Champions talk: what makes a champion?
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If you group the word mental together with psychology, it would definitely emerge as the most popular theme. Also, dedication and commitment were often used, suggesting that the athletes considered drive and motivation as key aspects that they felt separated them from their colleagues; there is plenty of research evidence which supports these opinions. This video reinforces the mental components used to explain Jonathan Edwards’ success in Activity 2.


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