‘Athletes are no different to the rest of us and struggle to maintain motivation,’ says Dr Claire Marie Roberts., a lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Worcester and Team GB psychologist in last year’s Olympic Games. Here are three key techniques they use:
1. Set a specific goal you CAN achieve
Specific, realistic yet challenging goals are the key to every Olympic athlete’s success. The best are focused on self-improvement, for example ‘I will aim to run one more kilometre today than I did last week’ rather than a comparison with others, such as ‘I want to run faster than her’.
2. See exactly what YOU want to happen
Seeing how they want their future to unfold is a powerful motivator for athletes. Imagine yourself in a positive future state – fitter / having lost weight / having run further / feeling your clothes looser on you – anytime you feel de-motivated and want to avoid exercise. Then ask yourself, what do I want more, to become that image or to lie here and watch another hour of telly?
3. Learn to fail UP
What is it that makes Olympic athletes keep fighting hard even after they lose an event? Olympic athletes view failure, set-backs or disappointment as the key to success. They have to reflect honestly on setbacks or failure. When you have a setback – for example, you haven’t reached your weight or fitness goal – Roberts suggests asking yourself: what has led to this? How much control do I have over it? What can I do to stop it from happening again? What do I need to do differently?’The idea that ‘If it were easy everyone would be doing it,’ can also often come in handy when it all feels too hard, she explains.
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