Change Your Mindset to Change Your Performance

If you change your mindset, you will change your performance. Some of the most competitive people I have met are those who claim to hate competition. If truth be told, what they really hate is losing and they don’t like the stress they create in trying to win. When that mindset creeps into athletes it interferes with performance, leading to less consistent success and more stress. You need to change your mindset.


What drives the competitive athlete is the love of competition. Matching their skill set against an opponent drives most accomplished athletes. As athletes rise up the ranks in their prospective sports, their athletic skills must improve, but so to do their mental skills. In fact, what typically separates the best from the rest is the mental aspect of athletics. It is the ability to change your mindset to fit the situation. When you get to the highest levels of competition, the athleticism exhibited is at the highest levels, so the difference maker becomes the ability to perform at a high level more consistently. It is the ability to master your mindset.

Mastering your mindset is the key to mastering your performance.

Change Your Mindset to Separate Yourself from the Pack

It is important to recognize when you compete you are typically competing with athletes at your relative level. When you go to a division 3 school the athletic skill set of most of those players is not at the same level as a division 2 or 1 athlete. Beyond the athletic talent, what will separate the best at each level will be the mindset they bring with them each and every day. That mindset is context dependent and can be influence by many factors. You need to regularly monitor you mindset and changer you mindset as needed.


Haven’t we all seen or heard of the great athlete who never amounted to much. They didn’t have the work ethic, or mental toughness, or ability to relate to others, that was needed to reach and be successful at the highest levels. It was their mindset that interfered. They needed to change their mindset. You can learn how to change your mindset. Conversely, we all have heard the stories of the over-achiever. The guy or gal who were too short, to slow, too weak, or too… and should have never made it. Their mindset, however, drove them to succeed beyond the expectations people placed on them. Mindset will do that.

Train Your Mind to Master Your Mindset

Athletic training today, especially for teenagers and most college athletes, focuses first on improving athleticism and specific sport skills or techniques and only secondarily on the mental side of athletic performance. It rarely shows you how to change your mindset. Ultimately, athlete mindset training or peak performance training should encompass several facets. In order to consistently perform at their peak ability, athletes need:

  • To have supportive beliefs about their abilities
  • The ability to access the “flow” state or “tunnel” vision while competing
  • To understand how their own motivation works and how to maintain it
  • The skills to let go of and control all negative emotions
  • The ability to clarify and establish winnable goals.

Most athletic mindset training or sports psychology work will focus on just a handful of tools. The tools include:

  • Writing SMART goals
  • Visualization or winning in the mind
  • Using mantras or positive, energetic language to motivate and reinforce a winning mindset
  • Breath work
  • Acting as if, or using confident, upbeat body language to get the feeling of success in your body and mind

These tools need to be taught. They are indispensable tools in mindset training. You can use them to change your mindset or master your mindset. More importantly, these tools need to be built into the daily ritual of the athlete. It is the ritual itself that atomizes the thinking like a champion. If you are simply taught what to do and how to do it but you aren’t developing the habit it really is pointless. A good mindset coach will structure their program to help the athlete build the habit, but the bottom line is they can’t create the habit. Only the athlete can create a habit. The habit will allow you, the athlete, to change your mindset, and in time become a master of your mindset.

Learn to let go of the past and to apply HEAT

- habit, emotion, attitude, training

The one thing that is missing from the above list of tools, which is rarely offered and is what makes our Peak Performance or Personal Breakthrough training so unique, is a process of self-discovery and releasing – a process that will quickly and easily change your mindset.

The greatest champions have an uncanny ability to create ways to let go of past negative emotions, limiting decision, and to be completely clear on what they value most.

  • They are focused. 
  • They have clear visions. 
  • They know what they want. 

Most sport psychologists or mindset coaches use the same basic tools to deal with the impact of the stress and pressure of performing and to manage their emotional state. Athletes need to be able to take decisive action in moments of what would normally create high anxiety. These tools can positively influence the past, but rarely do performance coaches directly address the past. Dealing with the past impacts the present and the future.

I use the metaphor of building an arch bridge to get you from the land of quiet desperation to the land of success and fulfillment. Moving from one to the other requires you to change your mindset. Before building this mindset bridge you need to excavate the ground.

  • You need to learn what decisions or beliefs you have buried in your unconscious that may be interfering with your ability to consistently perform at your peak level. 
  • You need to learn what negative emotions you may still be holding onto deep in your unconscious that is getting in the way of consistent peak performance. 
  • You need to know what you value most across different areas of your life so you can understand the importance of balance and work to create that balance. 
  • You need to be shown a simple, yet powerful technique for dealing with those obstacles. If you do not, you will be using the above tools to build a mindset on uneven ground. 

This “mindset of a champion arch” may look good, may function, but it will not be as stable and it will be far more challenging to build. Excavate the ground first. Rid yourself of excess obstacles. Change your mindset.

Change Your Past and Change Your Present: Two Case Studies

A very talented sprinter was entering her senior indoor track season and during the course of the regular season she became increasingly frustrated because her times were no better than her junior year. After working to uncover some limiting decisions she had made and negative emotions she hadn’t resolved, she went out and in the final four meets – regular season, conference, regional, and state – she set four success personal records, a league record, regional record, and state record. In the state meet she defeated a longtime nemesis whom she had never beaten in a race before. She went on to earn a Division 1 scholarship in track and field.

In each of those cases the visualization they tried, the positive mantras, and all the other standard techniques had not worked because those unconscious obstacles were interfering. While those standard techniques might have eventually helped them to build a mindset of a champion, it is much more efficient to use the techniques I teach to simply remove the obstacles. Using these techniques, there really are only two reasons success won’t happen. One of those is fairly simple and straightforward to correct with direct coaching, while the other deals with something called secondary gain. Sometimes some people simply don’t want to let go of the problem or the obstacle and there comes a time when the coach simply needs to cut them loose. Usually, I can find out within the 30 to 60 minute initial consultation if the athlete is ready to let go. It is important to know that when you change your perception of past events you change your mindset.

Learn to Apply Heat

Once the ground is cleared HEAT should be applied. Habit, emotion, attitude, training is about further teaching the typical sport psychology tools while guiding the athlete to create habits or rituals that allow them to more consistently access the flow state, deal with negative emotions, evaluate their performance, and align their values and set goals.

Developing the rituals is about training the mind. It is about changing your mindset. It is a life time process to become a master of your growth mindset and its implications go far beyond simple athletic performance. It is this part of the training where the athlete will typically struggle. It takes motivation and discipline which the coach should be showing how to achieve, but the coach cannot cause the athlete to achieve it.

At Success Institutes, one reason for what some perceive as the high cost of the Peak Performance Training is the need for leverage. First, the knowledge and skills gained in their own right are worth the cost of an average college course at a top 500 college or university, which is what we charge initially. Making that kind of investment in yourself causes you to value it more and work harder at it. Beyond that, knowing you can earn back some of that expense by completing the program within an allotted time provides some monetary incentive – no such incentive in college. We also encourage families or teams to do this together for more accountability.

I can’t say it is easy because I can’t say that breaking old habits and creating new ones is easy, but I can tell you that when it is completed you have given yourself the best chance to make use of further trainings on developing those character traits that true champions show – love, faith, faithfulness – as well as how to recognize the impact family and friends have on your mindset and how to improve those relationships along with improving your mind, body, and spirit. The big two for athletes are the Peak Performance Training and the Spirit of a Champion training. The others have significant benefit for everyone in any endeavor, but are not as specific to athletic performance as the first and last.

For more information visit Athlete Training Academy or Success Institutes or Watch Our Free Webinar.

Please consider joining our private Facebook group: Mastering Your Growth Mindset

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