The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive
I bought this book after a series of disappointing times in a swim meet late in 2023. There’s no swimming advice in here. I’ll certainly continue searching for that. Nor is there a road map to better conditioning, which is all on me to get done. But what Mr. Afremow talks about is what kind of thinking it takes to train and perform well. He has researched a wide varieity of studies, and spoken with hundreds of champion athletes.
For the first time in my life, I was quite nervous before this swim meet, and that is something new for me. I was looking for thoughts on how athletes, all of whom are striving for something much more stressful than my little masters swim meet, prepare in terms of their thinking and philosophy. The book is filled with bits and pieces about this. It’s kind of a smorgasbord of ideas – and there were certainly some that I took to heart.
Here are some of the quotes:
He took a number of lessons from legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson. One of Jackson’s techniques was to have players do breathing exercises between quarters. Afremow states, “Your breathing can become shallow when you feel angry or anxious. When this occurs, oxygen intake diminishes and muscle tension increases. So make sure to take a deep breath in tough situations. Simply prolonging exhalation, regardless of inhalation length, promotes the relaxation response. Proper breathing helps expel the stress and tension from your system and brings you back into the present.”
“Take yourself lightly. A competition is an opportunity to test your fitness, challenge the competition, and demonstrate how hard you’ve worked. You are not your game. Take what you are doing seriously, but learn to take yourself lightly.”
“Act in accordance with this Chinese proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
“Here are five keys to an effective pregame personal pep talk.
- Keep it simple, clear, and powerful.
- Evoke previous success for confidence.
- Tell yourself what you need to focus on to play your best.
- Remember that there is nothing to lose and everything to win.
- Make a decision to enjoy each moment.”
And there’s a lot more.