With the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner we wanted to take a deep dive into what attributes make a champion. We will be LOUDLY cheering the Aussies Dan & Bec McConnell in the XCO Mountain Bike Race. Don’t forget to watch the XCO Racing at the Tokyo Olympic Games on 26th July at 4pm AEST (Men) and 27th July at 4pm AEST (Women)!!! Good luck to Dan & Bec from Matty & Donna (PCS)!!!!
Being a champion in your sport is something that many athletes strive for. People take up sport for many reasons including fitness, improving their self-worth, satisfying their competitive nature, adrenaline boosts and sometimes so that they can be the best in that sport for their age group.
It’s not all about fitness and skill though, a true champion displays certain personality traits that we see time and time again. READ ON!
A champion has the courage to take risks. These risks sometimes lead to failure and setback but they have the courage to take the risk and learn from it. Taking risks is the easy part, learning from them is where their champion side shines. Bettering themselves through physical and mental improvement.
Train your Body and your Mind
A Champion trains their body, but also their mind. Using mindfulness meditation techniques and motor imagery which is the act of mentally visualizing the actions of a particular event in your head, in order to help you prepare before physically tackling the event.
Turn your Weaknesses into Strengths
A Champion understands that they have weaknesses and instead of ignoring them and relying on the stronger aspects of their skill and technique, they train and work hard on those weaknesses and make them their strengths.
Find Balance in your Life
Being able to balance life is something that is overlooked but is a highly important trait of a champion. Fully concentrating on only training and becoming the best won’t work. Being able to balance family, diet, training, and finance, while still being able to mentally focus on each aspect makes a champion. Champions have multiple coping mechanisms for stress and pressure.
Find Challenges in the Unlikely of Places
A champion doesn’t look at their competitors as enemies or in any negative way. They look at their competitors as partners and people to challenge themselves against for the chance to improve. Watching sport, you can tell which athletes are going to be more successful by the way they interact with their fellow competitors. There is no place for anger, attitude, negativity or jealously in high level sport.
Take the Highs and Lows in your Stride
A champion really does understand the highs and lows of their sport. Its like a roller coaster. You will have awesome races, where you just blow your own expectations away, and you will have races where you thought you were in peak performance and fell short. The way that you deal with these ups and downs makes a champion. Being able to accept both the good and the bad, and still get back on the bike the next day with a clear, positive and focused mind is the key.
Enjoy the Ride
A champion enjoys the sport for what it is. The simple act of doing the sport causes chemical reactions in the body that release endorphins and feelings of content and enjoyment. Yes it’s important to be able to fire up in the moments before a race, but just doing the simple act of cycling down to a friend house or to the shops elicits feelings of enjoyment.
I Can do that
A positive “I Can” attitude always drives a champion. The fact that someone may have not made the same achievement before drives that athlete. Just because others say it’s impossible, a champion says I can. This trait is not arrogance or overconfidence. This is self-belief, and the tools to be able to back up that statement and get to work. Being able to take constructive criticism and not take it to heart shows a true champion.
Find your Tribe
A true champion has a support network most could only dream of. They will be the ones in the spotlight, but behind the scenes is a family, network of friends and coaches that are fully supporting the athlete. It is exceedingly difficult to become a champion by yourself. If you have the drive, set yourself up with a motivating, positive support network that can sacrifice the time and effort to be there for you. Surround yourself with people who understand you and how to specifically work with your personality, life structure, finances and level of skill.
Genes v Work Ethic
So what about other things that aren’t to do with personality or support. Well, to have the best chance at being a champion you need some good genetics. Many top-level athletes have physiological advantages that give them that X factor. Not all athletes, as some just have an amazing work ethic and will go far, but having the right body type, pain tolerance, muscle fibre compilation, strength and endurance can greatly improve your chances of becoming a champion. This doesn’t always come from your parents, as advantageous genes can surface after many generations, but we do see some examples in top level cycling of parent -to – child genes transfer.
Find your MOJO
You can’t control your gene’s but you can control your motivation level and the time that you put towards your sport. This is actually one of the most important factors in becoming a champion especially for younger athletes. Research suggests that it may even be the greatest predictor of success. Motivation is definitely a tricky one though as you can’t just give someone motivation, they have to find it from within which means finding the reason they want to keep getting on the bike and doing the hard work.
Can you see certain qualities discussed above in yourself or your child? Could you or your child be the next MTB Champion? Look at your goals, write them down, practice self analysis and use your weaknesses to build better performance. Look at what motivates you, what physiological adaptations you may have to help you and surround yourself with the support you need to get to where you want to go.
Donna Dall (Progressive Coaching Systems) coaches a range of athletes who ride and race for different reasons. What is important is that you enjoy the sport for what it is and want to better yourself as a rider. If this sounds like you, and you feel like you need support, we are always here to work together to achieve your goals. PCS also offers a free 30 minute training session online that you can view in your own time. Find it here: Free Mountain Bike Training – PCS Coaching
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach
My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!