The true source of a World Cup winning performance

In Inner Performance, Sport, Thinking

We perform better when we get caught up in the experience, rather than make the experience about us.  When we focus on a personal prize our options narrow; when we relish the process our options expand. (Garret Kramer, Stillpower)

The Football World Cup starts today and with it all the hype and punditry and commentators trying to second guess what the players are thinking about and what they can do next.

A good friend of me was telling me this week about John Barnes scoring a particular World Cup goal, and was asked by the commentator what was he thinking about when he scored it?  His reply?  Nothing. Ask any Olympic athlete what was going through their minds for a gold medal performance?  Nothing.

And remember hearing Tim Henman being asked by a commentator what Andy Murray could do to up his game during a challenging moment during his Championship winning Wimbledon match?  His reply?  All he can do is play the next shot.  Tim Henman understood.  But the commentator didn’t!

So why do coaches and managers and trainers fill their athletes heads with a pile of thinking to do to get in to a mind-less or no-think state?  That seems an oxy-moron to me and can only lead to a revved-up state of mind, rather than the quiet mind we all intuitively recognise when we perform at our best.

To me, when I’m in that flow-state, it’s like being a passenger, and as a passenger I’m able to observe more of what is going on around me and allowing me to perform at a higher level.

And so I say to all the World Cup teams, go out and play.  Enjoy your experience.  Respect your competitors for their role is not to bring you down, but to get you to up your game, and play at your highest level, whatever that is in the moment.

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