The Champion’s Mind – Bring it Every Day

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Chip Kelly, head football coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, acquired a compelling team motto when he coached the University of Oregon Ducks to unprecedented success: “Win the day.” Coach Dana Cavalea is the former Baseball Director of Strength & Conditioning and Performance for the New York Yankees. He developed the Yankees mindset leading the team to a World Championship in 2009. Let’s now take a look at how this level of excellence can be achieved only today – in the champion’s mind.

Bring It Every Day – Be Your Own Champion

Win The Day

This means you should take advantage of the opportunity that each day brings to be the best athlete you can be .

If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse is a winning philosophy that must be embraced to reach personal excellence and competitive greatness. Peak performance is the daily strike zone we are aiming for.

Excellence can be achieved only today – not yesterday nor tomorrow, because they do not exist in the present moment. Today is the only day you have to flex your talents and maximise your enjoyment. Your challenge is to win in all aspects of life. To reach that goal, you need to set yourself up for success by winning one day at a time. Procrastination is no match for a champion.

Setting daily goals and striving to achieve them is how you reach the status of a champion. How are you getting better today? Non-medalists have a yesterday attitude by dwelling on things that didn’t go well in a previous performance or a tomorrow attitude by procrastinating and not getting things done now.

I’m trying to do the best I can. I’m not concerned with tomorrow, but I am with what goes on today stated Mark Spitz, Olympic swimmer, winner of nine gold medals plus a silver and a bronze over two Olympic Games (1968 and 1972).

Be like Kelly and Spitz by incorporating a “win the day” approach, whether that means getting in extra practice, protecting your rest and recovery time, or crushing it on the court or field. This is your sporting experience – be vitally engaged and take responsibility for getting the most from it. Today is a brand new opportunity to go for gold. Don’t get derailed, stay focused!

What do you need to do today to put yourself in a more favourable, positive athletic position? As a champion, you should never settle for less than you can be, but you must also realise that you do not need be disciplined every second of the day. It requires discipline for those few key moments during the day when you need to avoid the temptation and/or start a positive action. To perform at a champion’s level, recognise when it is critical to maintain discipline and when it is time to relax. i.e. clear your mind and enjoy some downtime.

  • What are your main temptations to avoid?
  • What are your most positive actions to start?

Recognise there are some moments during competition that require iron self-discipline and others when a breather is acceptable. Use the phrase “Think gold and never settle for silver” as your mantra for self-discipline during the moments when discipline is absolutely required.

Whenever you have an important choice to make e.g. hit the snooze button on a cold, rainy morning or get up and face the world by getting out into the elements and training for your sport, “think gold!”

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Your Daily Gut Check Questions for the Champion’s Mind

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Daily

  • When I go to sleep at night am I a better athlete than when I woke up that morning?
  • At sunrise – How will I become a Champion today?
  • At sunset – How was I a Champion today?
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The Champion’s Will-Do-Now List

To perform at a Champion’s level, you must have a winning off-field game plan that includes specific strategies like well placed environmental cues you can use to achieve excellence and remind yourself that you are working to win. Notes taped on bathroom mirrors, desktop background motivational messages, phone screen savers, anything that reminds you of your Gold choices in life.

Time management is priority management

Prioritising your time should be a vital part of your daily and weekly game plans. make good choices regarding how you invest your time, energy and resources. Champions are on time and on mind for every practice every day. This allows them to be consistently successful.

Always remember the key word fun and make sure to include some fun in daily activities. A little fun goes a long way in a satisfying and successful life. You renew your energy during these mental timeouts. Champions take charge of their lives and do what they deem is best for them. They know no-one is going to live their life, do their training or compete for them.

Schedule the right number of daily challenges

An unrealistic plan is a self-defeating plan. If it is undoable, it becomes disheartening very quickly, so it is important to schedule a reasonable number of tasks. at sunset you can then enjoy what you’ve done albeit done so far on your plan. Daily agendas or to-do lists are helpful but try not to have many fillers or unimportant items on your list. At a champion’s mind level your list has to be a “Will-do-now list”.

You are stronger than the initial discomfort experienced in staying disciplined while working hard or changing habits. To achieve positive outcomes, imagine the good feeling of striking off each item from the list. Life is a series of choices and time is treasure. That being true, own your own game by making good choices and using time wisely. To enhance your daily performance, use gold as visual triggers for firing up your best attitude, putting forth your full effort and maintaining a Champion’s outlook on life. Gold is forever linked to “Think gold and not silver” which goes wherever you go.

Organise to synchronise

Many of us also need to make a commitment to get and stay more organised for greater efficiency and peace of mind.

  • Do you have well thought out meals planned for each day, including balanced snacks(if really necessary)?
  • Do you have a packing plan when traveling to compete?

A good idea before traveling to a competition is to pack your kit a day early, lay our your clothes, gear, and extra towel, balanced food snacks, water and money. Then charge your mobile phone and iPod.

Keep in mind that other organisational changes in your life can also boost your mood and performance. For example, maintain a clean, clutter free bedroom, office and sports locker; use colour coded files to sort out all paperwork; recycle whatever you can; keep a daily planner filled with only the necessary reminders.

Periodically spend 30 minutes organising and cleaning your space to avoid major disorganisation. less clutter in your personal space will decrease your stress levels. Listen to music while you are cleaning and decluttering. It all helps towards the champion’s mind!

Power with People

Social relationships can facilitate and/or impede your pursuit of excellence. As such, people skills can be just as important as athletic ability when it comes down to your enjoyment and success at sports. People skills pertain to an understanding of ourselves and others, talking and listening effectively and building positive and productive relationships.

Whether you participate in an individual or team sport, good people skills are essential in helping you relate well and resolve conflict with others – coaches, teammates, media, trainers, officials, opponents, family and friends. here are several points about developing good people skills:

Know your rights and entitlements

Do not let others violate your rights and entitlements. Do not tolerate verbal, physical, racial or sexual abuse. If someone’s behaviour violates your rights, let him/her know immediately rather than waiting to see if it happens again. And vice versa you must too respect others in the same way.

Be present while listening

Give the other person your complete attention rather than planning your response or daydreaming. maintain n attentive posture, make eye contact, and nod in agreement appropriately to show you are engaged in the listening. Summarise what the other person is saying at points in the listening to show you have received their message. Good listening skills encourage others to talk, share concerns, enable them to get their point of view over to you.

Avoid mind reading

Ask the other person what they are thinking or feeling rather than tell them what you think they are thinking. Likewise don’t let others have to guess what is on your mind. keep open the line of communication and always be respectful of others.

Discuss problems when they begin

Do not allow a problem with another person to fester. if needed take a short break, even a whole day to clear your head or calm down; then express how you feel and what you want corrected. This approach can resolve any misunderstanding quickly and get things back on track. sulking about the issue is not the right approach.

Criticise the behaviour, not the person

It is always better to be specific about the behaviour you are challenging, Avoid generalising comments like “You never…” or “You always…” This avoids your message being taken personally and will be a more productive approach.

Let fairness rule the day

Stop trying to be perfect or expecting others to be perfect. look for a way to compromise or meet in the middle when differences arise. In relationships with others, just ask yourself, “What is fair and reasonable to both parties in this situation?” The goal is to work together to find a solution that suits everyone. Avoid thinking right-wrong, all-or-nothing, or good-bad dichotomies.

The Champion’s Mind – What is your Daily Schedule?

We’ve started to look deeper into what makes a champion stand apart the 99%. We’ve looked at how a champion is prepared to push themselves to do that bit extra that takes them further than those around them. What does your daily schedule look like? Ask yourself a few simple questions to find out if you really have what it takes to become a champion in your field:-

  • Question – What time do you get up in the morning?
  • Question – What are the daily tasks you do that is taking you on your champion journey?
  • Question – How much time do you dedicate to your pursuit of greatness?
  • Question – Which books, channels, materials are you studying about your craft to make you better than your adversaries?
  • Question – How do you record and review your progress?
  • Question – Who is your inspiration?
  • Question – What exactly is it you need to achieve to be a champion in your chosen field?

Please take the time to reflect on what you need to be doing in order to achieve your goal. If you have any advice to share please feel free to leave it in our Comments section below. Or alternatively contact us on WhatsApp +44 7849 502790 or email us at

Excerpts taken from “The Champion’s Mind – How Great Athletes Think Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow PhD. ISBN 978-1-62336-562-2 – An excellent read from a leading sports psychology consultant and licensed counsellor.

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