This is another one of those quotes which I recently heard in reference to Olympic lifting but I can’t remember where; I assume on some fitness podcast. The words are in reference to performance in that you MUST train like the Chinese do; completely dedicated to your craft with minimal distractions. Then, head in to the arena and COMPETE like the American’s; brash, full of confidence and self-belief; remember the likes of Maurice Greene and Andy Roddick.
There is so much truth in the statement, probably aside from the fact that I am certain American athletes are also very dedicated to their craft; the message is in the social stereotypes. At any level, there is absolutely no way you can get around putting in the effort, commitment and hard work. Without these, there are simply athletes who underperform. From all accounts, and largely due to their political history and social structure, the Chinese are meticulous, methodical and strive for perfection. This is drilled into them at an early age. This is what all athletes must seek and what coaches must guide their athletes to find. The emphasis must be placed on the journey and the process of the training, in preparation for the end goal or outcome. The journey can often be monotonous and dull, but it is generally filled with many learning experiences preparing you to turn into that American competitor.
Come game day or race day, you should have enough confidence in your preparation to at least achieve to the standards you have set in practice; hopefully higher depending on the importance of the game or race. Everything must be automatic. The time for training is over. Great coaches do not teach on game day; teaching is for the practice field. As the athlete, you must assume the persona of the likes of Maurice Greene; the overtly confident American sprinter. You should be confident in your preparation; there is no time for doubt. Leave that for the practice field. There is enough research on the benefits of positive self-talk which makes me love the mantra ‘fake it, to make it’. You are better off thinking about yourself achieving great things in your event, rather than placing doubt in your mind and limits on your body, as to whether you are ready. Leave that for the practice field.
In recent years, with the Jamaican dominance in the sprint events, they portray their own form of confidence by displaying a very care-free, less serious approach to their event(s). This is stark contrast to the likes of the American sprinters or athletes like Roddick. However, I believe the underlying principle is the same; they are preparing in their best way possible to bring about the best outcome on that day.
One of my old coaches never use to coach us on race day, ignored us in fact and I suspect this is why. The work is done. No more training on the day is going to benefit the performance.
Next game or race, tell your athletes to display the confidence of the American’s or the Jamaican’s, and as one of my old teachers use to and still tells me, ‘just have fun!’ Don’t stress about what you could have done better or things you are not good at. Leave that for the practice field.