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Drive & Determination in Sports

Coaching Priorities
     
Experienced coaches stress that an athlete's drive and determination are more important than natural talent in the long term perspective. The challenge to coaches and parents is how to help their athletes become self-motivated and get them quickly and easily fired up and focused for practices, tests, and competitions.

      Successful athletes are able to shrug off negative factors in their personal life which reduces self-doubt and periods of mild depression that has negative effects on training and competing.

      Have you ever asked yourself "Why are some athletes are able to achieve their best performance in pressure packed situations while others seem to fail miserably when the opportunity for succeeding presents itself?".  It is an unfortunate fact that some athletes fold or quit under pressure. As a coach, you must find a way to train your athletes to dig deep into their emotional reserves and find solutions to tough problems related to skating and in other pursuits outside of skating.

Potential Obstacles
      There will always be parents, managers, athletes, and/ or other coaches who behavior and actions seem to be directed towards sabotaging the athletes you coach. You need to develop a response in anticipation of the possibility of such encounters. Such preparation provides you with the advantage over your detractors.

      While winning is nice, make sure your athletes don't become "Bad Winners" in their exclusive drive to become gold medalists.

PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF U.S. OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS
Story Published, January 5th, 2010
By: Daniel Gould, Ph.D.; Kristen Dieffenbach, M.S. and Aaron Moffett, M.S.
University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Characteristics of Champions:

Abstract:
  • Optimistic and Positive - remain positive when faced with difficulties and rebound more quickly when failures were experienced.
  • Uncanny Ability to Focus - ability to concentrate or focus on key performance related factors while effectively blocking out distractions.
  • The Ability to Handle Stress and Cope With Adversity - ability to handle stress and cope with adversity allowed these athletes the capacity to deal with the routine setbacks and anxiety associated with training and competing in developmental and elite levels of competition.
  • Mentally Tough - one important characteristic is the athlete's ability to focus on resilience, perseverance, and successfully deal with adversity.
  • Sport Intelligence - the ability to analyze performance, being innovative relative to ones sport technique, being a student of the sport, making good sport related decisions, understanding the nature of elite sport, and being a quick learner.
  • Implications for Guiding Practice - knowledge of the psychological characteristics may be used in:
Rating athletes development on these key psychological attributes using Table 1. The resulting profile could then be used to identify athletes attributes or characteristics for further development. For example, if an athlete scores low on concentration/focus or motivation and commitment, this athlete could take part in psychological skills training to improve their competence in this area.
    Rating athletes development on these key psychological attributes using Table 1. The resulting profile could then be used to identify athletes attributes or characteristics for further development. For example, if an athlete scores low on concentration/focus or motivation and commitment, this athlete could take part in psychological skills training to improve their competence in this area.
   
Table 1. Psychological Characteristic Athlete Rating Plan for Improvement
  
Components of Champions Rating Form
   
Psychological Characteristic Athlete Rating Scale:
 (10 = strength; 5 = okay/ average; 0 = weak)
Motivation & Commitment             
Optimistic and Positive
Positive Perfectionism
Ability to Focus
Ability to Manage Stress/Cope with Adversity
Mental Toughness
Sport Intelligence

Conclusion
       Olympic Athletes can be characterized by having psychological characteristics discussed in this article, no individual Olympian was observed having all the factors and factor sub components identified by the study. Each champion was unique as to how the characteristics were combined to comprise his or her psychological make-up.

       Even successful Olympic Athletes struggled and faced adversity with some even experiencing clinical issues. These athletes as a group are amazing psychologically, but they are not super men or women.

       The knowledge gained in this study can provide an important glimpse into the components of the psychology of excellence and help us facilitate the development of these characteristics in other U.S. athletes.

Recommended Reading:

Drive and Determination - sports psychology articles training
With this characteristic added to an athlete's make-up, an athlete strives relentlessly toward his or her potential.

The Biomarkers of Athletes - Genes and Athletics - Amateur ...
The drive and determination has lead Quan Campbell to her success in athletics. She is the President and exercise physiologist for LWI Peak Performance and the Life wellness Institute.

Mission Statement - PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
Philadelphia University Department of Athletics Mission Statement ... Maintaining focus, drive and determination to meet individual and team goals.

Olympics expert Bruce Kidd on: How important is innate ability ...
Aug. 6, 2008 ... How much of athletic success is attributable to innate ability and how ... Someone without ideal genetics can use drive and determination in grueling training to achieve athletic success

References:

Developing Personality and Character Traits
   
     
  Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
 

   
Modifying Athlete Behaviors

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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