The best athletes have a winning mentality. But how exactly do you develop a winning mindset, and what does that entail?
How to Develop a Winning Mentality
Grab your sports mouthguard and learn our top 10 tips to help you develop a winning mentality no matter what sport you play:
Examine your motivations
Pretty much everybody likes to win — but not always for the same reasons. If you want to develop a winning mentality, then consider why you like to win. Do you enjoy the validation that you get from other people?
Do you thrive on the adrenaline rush in the final seconds of a game? Do you get a rush out of setting goals and achieving them? Figuring out your personal motivations will help you better achieve a winning mentality.
Follow through on your big talk
Lots of people talk a big game (pun intended) about winning, then don’t do anything to follow through on it. They never practice harder or longer or switch up their training regimen or do anything different from what they are already doing.
If you’ve been talking the talk but not walking the walk, now is the time to start putting in the time and effort to back up your words.
Don’t be afraid of losing
This might seem like a paradox, but hear us out: If you want to develop a winning mentality, then you can’t be afraid of losing, especially in the beginning. It takes time and effort to become the best at your sport, and you are going to fail and lose along the way.
Even the GOAT athletes that represent the absolute pinnacle of their sports still lose sometimes, but they know how to bounce back and win again instead of getting in their heads about it.
Get motivated by failure
Speaking of losing, you need to learn to get motivated by failure instead of being absolutely dejected by it. It’s normal to feel disappointed, of course, but the best athletes use failure as fuel to get better.
They figure out what went wrong and come up with a training plan to strengthen their weaknesses. They also study the competitors who are beating them in order to learn from them and get better. With the right mindset, failure can become your greatest learning tool.
Set goals the right way
When setting training goals, it’s important to choose things that are within your control — and winning every game or match typically isn’t one of those things. Instead, focus on things that you can control.
For instance, you can control whether or not you work out five days a week, do flexibility training at the end of every session, switch to a better protein powder, or get a pro mouthguard that allows you to breathe better. By focusing on what you can control, you will develop more effective goals.
Break down large objectives into small steps
When you first start making your training goals, they will probably be vague and feel overwhelming. That’s a sign that you need to start breaking them down into smaller goals.
For instance, if one of your big picture goals is to “Get stronger,” then you might break that down into “Do at least 30 weight lifting sets at the gym three times a week” and “Book a month of sessions with a personal trainer to learn new techniques.” The smaller goals should be easily achievable so that you know whether you’ve met them or not.
Practice visualization techniques
The physical practice is essential — you won’t turn yourself into a winning athlete while you’re sitting on the couch — but so is a mental practice. In fact, research has shown that mental imagery, such as visualizing specific moves or game scenarios, can improve performance.
By mentally practicing over and over again, you essentially create “muscle memory” in your brain so that way you don’t have to think about it at the moment; you can just do it.
Fine-tune the details
In the beginning, you will be focused on mastering bigger skills that form the foundation of the sport. But as you become more skilled, a lot of your improvement will come from small, incremental changes.
Slightly changing the angle of your throw, practicing a new breathing technique, or upgrading to a custom mouthguard can make a big difference in your performance. As you grow closer to mastery, keep fine-tuning the details to keep getting better.
Re-evaluate things often
The greatest athletes don’t let themselves plateau or get stuck in a rut; they keep pushing themselves to get better each and every day. Every few weeks or months, check in without yourself and see how things are going.
Identify areas where you can still improve or push yourself a little further, and then set new goals for those areas. By constantly re-evaluating and adjusting, you will continue to improve and draw ever closer to mastering your sport.
Just get started
It’s easy to get caught up in the planning stages and never move beyond them. If we could leave you with one piece of advice, it’s this: Just get started! Don’t get so hung up on all the steps we listed here that you never do anything different.
Pick something small that seems manageable and do that one thing, and then add on other actions as it feels feasible for you. The key is to get started, establish momentum and then go from there.
Developing a winning mentality takes work, just like any other skill in sports. If you are looking to develop a winning mindset, follow this advice and you will be well on your way. Got more tips for developing a winning mentality? Drop them in the comments below so we can learn from each other!
Image source: Jacob Lund