I wrote this today and I wanted to share:
What were some of the factors that I feel made a significant contribution to my success in sport?:
1. Attention to detail. Every detail mattered. I did my corner parts 100 times a day sometimes just to make sure they were perfect.
2. Planning. I had a plan. I trusted the plan. I committed to the plan. Each and every day. If I didn't know what was coming then I couldn't prepare for it and I hated that.
3. Professionalism. I was in the gym for a reason. I had a mission to accomplish. Get in, get your work done well and leave knowing that you did what you needed to do. I didn't play around too much. I was focused, but still able to laugh.
4. I listened to my body and my mind. I knew that I couldn't push myself too far past the point of comfort every day. I had to do it in small increments so that I could adapt. I took my time and didn't rush. One bad decision on a bad day can lead to injury and frustration that doesn't need to be there. It's ok to have a bad day as long as you come back ready to redeem yourself the next day.
5. I journaled. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I held myself accountable. Each day, especially close to a big competition, was an important day.
6. I had very clear and specific goals. I knew what I expected from myself on each skill in each routine. I set outcome goals (win medals), but I also set performance goals (stick dismount, legs together on Def etc). I knew that I couldn't control the outcomes, but I knew that I could control my performance. I wrote these goals down.
7. I had super open communication. I wasn't afraid to voice a concern, to ask a question, ask for help or to look someone in the eye. I wanted all of the people around me to be on the same page. Support is super essential to success.
8. I had a very high expectation of myself. Good enough wasn't good enough. I tried to hold myself to the highest standards of excellence.
9. I took time to be out of competition/routine shape and to not be super serious and I did this at the right time of year. I knew that being in amazing shape in January would have me burnt out by June. I maintained decent shape and turned it on and became serious about 3 months before the big meet. All of the best guys in the world do this. During my "squishy/chubby" phase of the year I would go out and have fun with friends, drink beers and eat a little unhealthy (not overboard), but I would put myself in a sort of personal lock down during "big meet" preparation (this meant 1 beer on Friday nights, an early bedtime and only the best fuel in my body).
10. I knew my strengths and my weaknesses. I spent more time building/creating my strengths and maintaining/perfecting my weaknesses. Let's face it, I was never a rings guy and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't capable of maltese. So, in the end, it was better for myself and the team to focus on perfecting an easy routine on that event. This also prevented me from getting too huge in my upper body so that my floor and vault suffered (HA!).
11. Safety first. I always made sure I was in a safe environment. I even had a mat in when I broke my legs (freak accident).
12. I put myself in Pressure Situations before the REAL pressure situations. I tried to recreate the sense of competition pressure before a routine in training. Never quite the same, but close.
13. I learned how to compete. Knowing how to turn it on when the green light comes on is a whole different experience than doing routines in training. There are 'athletes' and then there are 'competitors'. I was a competitor. I kind of liken it to being a warrior and competition was the battle field. I was different on competition day and I had to learn how to control all of the EXTRA stuff (adrenaline, nerves, energy, negative thoughts) that came on that day.
14. Consistency and confidence were very important to me. I wanted to know that I could hit a routine anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It took time to build to this consistent state, but I put the effort in to make sure I got there. Sometimes it was better to leave something out if it wasn't consistent and to do a routine that I knew I could hit.
15. I always felt a sense of social responsibility. I wanted to represent myself, my family, my club, GCG, the Country, etc, with the utmost of pride and integrity. I knew that there was a new generation of gymnasts looking up to me and I wanted to set a good example. This kept me on track because I knew that there was always someone looking and more importantly, following.
16. Innovation and creativity were important factors to my success. I tried to do things differently so that I would get noticed. I strongly believe that my signature full twisting dive to prone on floor was something that made me stand out. When you want to win you have to do something different than everyone else. Think outside the box. The little things DID make the big difference in my career.
17. I wanted it. I told people that I wanted it. I acted like I wanted it. Being successful and achieving my gymnastic goals was my everything. It is important to have that sense of obsession. Your sport needs to become your lifestyle.
Side note: I now struggle with the after affects of that single minded focus because when something is your 'everything' then it takes a long time to figure out what your next obsession is.
18. I believed that greatness was possible. I believed that I could be one of the best in the world. I believed that I could be an Olympic Champion and I held myself to that standard. You train differently when you are shooting for GOLD rather than SILVER or 15th. You ask more of yourself. But that drive and hunger can only come from within because as soon as someone pushes you to that standard then you start to resist. You have to believe deep down that it is possible.
So there's a little bit of wisdom and insight for ya! I hope that one of these factors has sparked something inside of you and has you inspired you to include it into your regime; whether it's in sport or related to something else in your life. Writing this today definitely opened my eyes. I realized that I need to start applying my own rules to the various *new* areas of my life if I want to continue performing at a high level.