Winning with an "As If" Mindset
In my work with athletes in over 45 sports at SPMI, I have found that at least 50% of wins and losses among athletes of similar levels are decided before the competition starts. The outcome of competition often depends on the mindset a.k.a belief system of an athlete. Athletes who struggle with maintaining a positive belief system also struggle with confidence. Without confidence, the athlete shuts down mentally and is never able to reach nor maintain their full potential because their mindset already decided the outcome of the competition. Athletes who are “suppose to win”, choke in decisive moments, because they’ve conditioned their subconscious that their opponent or team is "too good", or the competition is "above my level". One mindset technique that I want to share with athletes, coaches, and parents is called the “as if” mindset. Below are some steps in applying this positive mindset. This technique will help train the mind over time to see tough situations in a more positive and optimistic way; therefore, calming the mind and reducing pressure.
Step 1: recall your thoughts within 24-hours after a tough practice or competition and log your negative and doubtful thoughts in a notebook or journal.
Step 2: Go after each doubtful thought and challenge yourself to convince yourself that you have already overcome those tough situations.
- E.g., “I really need to start performing better” to “I’m going to go out there and perform as if I’ve been performing well all year."
- E.g., “I need to have a great game so that college coaches recognize me” to “as if I’ve already had great games where college coaches recognized me and were very impressed by my performances.”
- E.g., “I need to start scoring more points” to “as if I’ve been scoring lots of points every game, go out there and trust the process.”
Step 3: Visualize for 5 minutes what it will be like for you to go into your next competition with a committed “as if” mindset.
Step 4: Execute the “as if” mindset in competition.
Practice overcoming your negative mindset by replacing it with an “as if” positive mindset and stay patient throughout the process. Remember, the "as if" mindset is a skill and just like physical skills, mental skills also require consistent practice to master.