Using a performance mindset to improve athletic training

What’s the right mindset to reach your personal best?

In life and in sports, experts agree that success often depends on having the right state of mind. But what state of mind is most helpful when you’re working towards a physical goal like running a marathon or improving your performance in a sport that you love?

Vanessa Shannon, Ph.D., director of mental performance for University of Louisville Athletics and Norton Sports Health, explains what a performance mindset looks like in a successful athlete and how this differs from the mindset of an unsuccessful athlete.

Characteristics of successful athletes

The successful athlete demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • Willing to work
  • Manages time wisely
  • Takes responsibility
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Appreciates feedback
  • Accepts and understands change
  • Takes personal pride in own work
  • Finds motivation from within
  • Manages expectations of self and others
  • Buys into the process
  • Keeps priorities straight
  • Celebrates the success of others
  • Knows confidence comes from preparation

Norton Sports Health offers a number of sports performance programs, including Kentucky Derby Festival minimarathon/Marathon training and Couch to 5K.

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Characteristics of an unsuccessful athlete

In contrast to a successful athlete with a performance mindset, an unsuccessful athlete demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • Gives up easily
  • Wastes time
  • Blames others
  • Avoids challenges
  • Ignores criticism
  • Believes his or her way is best
  • Tries to please everyone
  • Needs a cheerleader
  • Has unrealistic expectations of self and others
  • Expects immediate results
  • Becomes distracted
  • Resents the success of others
  • Needs coaches and success to be confident

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