09 Feb Creating a Champion Mindset – The Key to Success in Athletics and Life

Creating a Champion Mindset – The Key to Success in Athletics and Life

Long-time trainer and sports performance coach Chris Carmichael recently published an article about developing the mindset of a champion. He discovered most athletes have one or two established set of attitudes and those with a growth mindset tend outperform all others, not only in sports, but in life.

The best athletes in the world aren’t always the strongest and fastest. While a high level of athleticism is a prerequisite for reaching the upper levels of competition, champions often perform beyond their ability in all aspects of life because they are inspired by the belief their best performances are still ahead of them. No matter your current level of athleticism, you can absolutely improve your performance by developing a championship mindset!

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Stanford University Psychology professor Carol Dweck’s mindset concept identifies two sets of attitudes: Growth vs. Fixed

A person with a fixed mindset believes talent, ability and intelligence are unchangeable traits. These individuals focus on simply being proficient, avoiding challenges that might prove otherwise and resisting change or new opportunities.

A person with a growth mindset believes talent, ability and intelligence can develop through practice, hard work and learning.

Most successful people have a natural tendency toward growth mindsets. They inherently understand that training and practice (ie. learning) leads to improvement. However, some people who understand how training and practice works are still motivated by a fear of failure – a key hallmark of a fixed mindset – instead of the opportunity for success.

What a Winning Mindset Looks Like

An athlete with a fixed mindset will concede he or she isn’t the strongest athlete on a team and is happy to just do his or her job, letting others try to “get the win” or make the big play. The drive to come up with other ways to win is what a growth mindset is about:


An inquisitive person asks questions and challenges conventional ideas about training, practice, nutrition and performance. They are not satisfied with, “This is how we’ve always done it.” This doesn’t mean they jump from one method or strategy to another on a whim, but rather they examine new ideas that can be applied to their training or practice regimen. This is also an important quality to look for in a coach.


Those with a growth mindset view relationships with athletes, coaches and performance-related experts as opportunities to gain more knowledge. These people are less “cliquey” because they welcome new voices and aren’t intimidated by those who may be faster or stronger than they are. Similarly, they are quick to share information with less-experienced athletes.

Daring + Bold

“Fortune favors the bold.” Faced with identical circumstances those with a growth mindset see opportunities to succeed or win before they consider the risks of failing. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset recognize the same scenarios – the perfect time to attack, shoot and score – but perceive the risk before the opportunity, ultimately choosing the safety of status quo to the risk of failing.

Sometimes being bold isn’t about being highly aggressive. It can also be seen in an athlete’s willingness to give everything they have on the field or court, or to “empty the tank.” Athletes with a growth mindset are problem solvers and optimists; they will do everything they can to avoid “giving in” or quitting.

Great Teammate

People with a growth mindset aren’t intimidated by the success of others. They don’t view helping a teammate improve as a negative reflection on their own abilities. They aren’t concerned about ceding their position (real or imagined) in the starting lineup. Similarly, when they win they are genuinely appreciative of the others who helped, and quick to thank each of them personally.

Love the Process as Much/More than the Outcome

Those with a growth mindset love to win and accomplish personal goals, but they also love to train and practice. They maintain a long-range view on a season in which games are the mile markers, not the destination. They are also willing to take on challenges with a moderate-to-high risk of failure. The potential to succeed in the face of significant obstacles is motivating, not threatening.

All the characteristics of a championship mindset apply to one’s school, work, career and relationships as much as one’s sports. The best students, entrepreneurs and employees are open to new ideas, they are collaborative, they are willing to take risks, and they are happiest when the team succeeds. Great personal relationships are built by valuing your teammates every mile of the journey, learning and adapting as you change over time and finding genuine fulfillment in seeing others succeed.

Take some time today to evaluate your own mindset and become confident in all aspects of your life!

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