olympics, athletes

5 reasons why I admire elite athletes

Those of you who know me a bit know about my admiration for the Olympics and athletes competing at that level. I subscribe to the spirit of the Games and believe in the message of standing united through sport.

Last month, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Junior Olympics in Europe where thousands of young athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 represented over 50 countries. Don’t be fooled by their tender age – they were fierce and I hope to see some of them in Tokyo in 2020.

Of all the qualities I admire about elite sportsmen and -women, here are 5 that can serve us well in our daily lives, too.

1. Self awareness

Change starts with being aware of your physical, mental and behavioral patterns. Athletes at the top of their game get guidance from their coaches and learn tools to understand their tendencies, manage their blind spots and correct their actions to improve performance. They develop a heightened awareness of not only their bodies, but of their minds so they can quickly course correct as needed.

2. Focus

Call it #PhelpsFace or whatever you’d like, tuning out the noise and getting your head in the game is an art. Our society is too distracted and if the studies are true, our attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. There’s no multi-tasking during the 200m butterfly race or floor exercise.

3. Resilience

You fell off the beam? Didn’t make the 100m hurdle finals? Rehashing the past when you have more chances at greatness is a drain on energy. The faster you can get your head back in the game, the higher the chances of success. Learn from what went wrong but don’t let it define your future.

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4. Visualization

I’m going to borrow an example from gymnastics. Many gymnasts use the “see, say and do” technique to visualize a routine or skill. Without really performing the routine or skill, the gymnast moves his or her body using small arm sets (i.e. “little movements”) to feel the movement in the body and says his or her words while visualizing the skill. Essentially the gymnast plans out what he or she is going to do and how, and projects the desired outcome.

In essence, this is a form of meditation; a tool that builds body-mind awareness and reinforces the neuro pathways in your brain to help you perform better. Use it to your advantage!

5. Self care

Yes, they push their bodies to their limits, but they also know that they need to rest and recover to perform well. They have a regular eating schedule and value their sleep. Without food and rest, they can’t keep performing at the elite level.

How has sport or movement, at any level, helped you become a better you in your everyday life? Would love to hear from you…


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