Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.
It’s this kind of thinking that led to the construction of one of the greatest empires in history.
Jim Afremow, sports psychologist and author of ‘The Champion’s Mind’ (currently in Amazon’s top 30 Bestsellers for Psychological Training and Coaching) has boiled down this concept, and applied it to enhancing athletes’ performance. His impressive client list boasts global athletes from a range of disciplines, including several Olympic teams.
Now he’s on a mission to make his pioneering methods accessible to everyone, and it’s available at our fingertips. From mental coaching to meditation, it’s all wrapped up in ‘The Champion’s Mind’ app.
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ARE CHAMPIONS BORN?
Champion’s love the game because they’re intrinsically geared up to win. But they’re no superhuman, their mind is the same as yours or mine.
“No one is born with or without a champion mind gene,” Jim explains. It’s simply “A beautiful obsession with becoming the best.”
What sets champions apart is that they don’t leave anything to chance or circumstance, they understand the importance of the mental game.
“Champions always ask themselves two questions: how good can I be? And what can I do to be better?”
But there’s nothing stopping us mere mortals from thinking like a champion, and smashing our goals in the process.
THE COMPETITIVE EDGE
Mental strength now outweighs physical capability. NY Yankees legend Yogi Berra claims…
Everyone knows an underdog who became the big dog, and more often than not they got there because they capitalised on mind power over firepower.
Rewind to Wimbledon 2019 when wonderkid Coco Gauff knocked out former champ Venus Williams. Gauff’s cool confidence and ability not to fold, and instead stay focused under pressure, led her to the win.
Something that will play in her favour for future tournaments.
Even so, top athletes grapple with self-doubt regardless of the confidence they exude. Without squashing the negative thoughts it’s easy to unravel into depreciative self-analysis.
As Jim puts it “If you overthink, you’ll underperform.”
Unfortunately, this is why sport is peppered with athletes who don’t always reach their full potential.
“That’s where I come in, to help them manage doubts, fears, and distractions, so they perform their best,” he says. “Good athletes perform well when they feel good, great athletes perform regardless of how they feel.”
Ultimately, it comes down to helping athletes at all levels overcome the deluge of challenges they face.
His method helps athletes overcome 6 C’s:
Positive self-image and solid faith in your own ability.
Laser-focus on the task at hand. Thinking about the right thing, at the right time, everytime.
Maintaining poise and coping under pressure. Knowing how to deal with mistakes.
Hitting 100% on whatever you have to that day. Start a routine and stick to it.
Dedication to a set routine. This will help shrink the slumps in performance.
With the sport, with coaches, with team-mates. It’s all important.
Obviously, not everyone has access to first-rate sports psychologists like Afremow. Instead, the The Champion’s Mind app takes all the key learnings from his techniques and breaks them down into bite size pieces.
Daily mental exercises only take a few minutes, but make all the difference. “The key here is how the body responds to the mind” reveals Jim, “If the mind is unprepared, the body will be unprepared.”
As athletes we’re wired up to think we constantly need to be bigger and better. The pressure of performance bears down on even the most self-assured sports people.
It comes down to defeat.
Whether a loss to an opponent or just missing a PB. Defeat knocks confidence for six.
And a mind left unchecked will spiral into thinking that the only way to reach the top is through super-human performance. But this isn’t true, we just need to bring our A-game.
Defeat is tough, yes. But Afremow talks athletes through a 3-step protocol to recover from the blow.
Recover. Emotions are running high, use this time to regroup both mentally and physically.
Reflect. Self-evaluate, accurately. And separate who you are from what you do.
Reignite. Revel in the comeback more than dwelling in the defeat.
Encouraging a strong bounce-back, the app will provide advice on maintaining focus, offer motivational encouragement and suggest tips on how to slow the racing mind after suffering defeat.
THE EVERYDAY CHAMPION
Now it’s time to champion the everyday athlete.
Calling all the weekend warriors with only minutes to spare in the day, you can take advantage of peak-performance coaching with just a few taps.
Visualisation, positive self-talk and goal-setting are all in the app. These aspects play a huge part in reaching the next stage of your journey, but on a smaller and more achievable scale. Nestled neatly in the app exists all kinds of extras like mindfulness and breathing techniques to complete the full circle of improved mental wellbeing.
“When you have a break in the day, spend it visualizing the success you want,” encourages Jim.
Jim differs from other sports psychologists because he’s also a licensed counselor. Taking in the whole person outside of the athlete. His holistic techniques are applicable to all of life’s pressure that athletes face, which ultimately impacts performance.
No matter what your discipline, live by The Champion’s Mind motto…
Which is the idea that we should all strive to be our gold medal self, and know that our good was good enough.
That’s where mental toughness comes in. It’s not just about gritting your teeth or sidelining your emotions. It’s the ability to not let anything ruin your moment. Not defeat, negative thinking or poor self-image.
“Being mind-strong is about staying positive and proactive in the most adverse conditions.”
A mind trained as fiercely as the body is the ultimate powerhouse.
Bridging the gap for everyday athletes to reach further than before. That’s not all, these are transferable life-skills that make a difference in your job, family, friends and relationships.
It’s time for sports psychology to claim a spot as the most important ritual for excelled performance. “Just like our physical capabilities, these skills need to be sharpened,” concludes Jim.
Welcome to the daily mind exercises that help you champion everything you do.