High Performance sport is founded on a relatively simple equation: you either win or you lose.
A critical aspect in understanding the “losing process” is to find the answer to this question….were you outplayed or out-talented?
What does it mean to be out-played?
Being out-played means that your opposition planned and prepared better than you did.
What does it mean to be out-talented?
Being out-talented means you were beaten by someone who possessed a superior athletic talent. For example, in the Golden Era of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s if you were unlucky enough to come up against Jordan, Pippen and Rodman and company then you were always going to be “out-talented”.
However, sporting loses due to being out-talented are very, very, very rare.
What’s the difference?
The difference between being out-talented and out-played is that being out-played is totally your own fault as you had complete control and responsibility over your own preparation.
The most important principle in competitive sport:
The most important principle in competitive sport is that you as an individual must out-prepare, in every aspect, on and off the “field”, in training and self management areas, your opponent. Doesn’t matter if you are in an individual sport or in a team sport: you, as an individual must out-prepare in every aspect the person you will be competing against.
Competitive Sport is not a handicap event:
You either win or you lose. Excuses do not count. Blame does not improve performance. It is pointless blaming losing on having “less talent” than your opposition unless, you know with absolute certainty, that you have prepared better in every aspect than they did.
Control the Controllables:
Having been involved in many many review processes over the past ten years with both professional and Olympic sports, it is common for athletes and coaches to look to blame factors outside their control for their failures.
“They had more money than we did”.
They had the best of lucky breaks from officials and referees when it mattered”.
“They had a better group of players than we did”.
All these factors can influence the result of games, matches and even seasons but, they do not overcome the basic requirement of responsibility for optimal personal preparation for every athlete, coach, support staff member and manager in the organisation.
Let’s look at a list of just 20 (and there are hundreds) of the key factors in preparation that you as an athlete or as a coach have complete control over and therefore have complete responsibility for:
- You are responsible for every mouthful of food you eat;
- You are responsible for every drop of fluid you drink;
- You are responsible for every drop of alcohol you drink (or don’t drink);
- You are responsible for both the quantity and quality of your sleep;
- You are responsible for your level of commitment to and engagement with your training program;
- You are responsible for studying your sport and understanding who / where the benchmarks are in all aspects of planning, preparation and performance;
- You are responsible for the way you interact with and communicate with team members, support staff, members of the public and other people involved in your Club / organisation;
- You are responsible for the way you look (i.e. dress codes, personal standards – “professionalism”);
- You are responsible for your attitude to training, preparation and playing;
- You are responsible for saying “no” at times which can impact negatively on your preparation and performance (e.g. mid to late evening in social situations – saying “no” to alcohol, reduced sleep etc);
- You are responsible for managing your own travel stress, i.e. eating, drinking, sleeping, etc during travel periods;
- You are responsible for your recovery program;
- You are responsible for the attention to detail to skills practices and learning;
- You are responsible for maintaining a balanced lifestyle and keeping mentally healthy;
- You are responsible for the attention to detail and a methodical systematic approach to planning your preparation and competition program;
- You are responsible for your level of passion, drive and enthusiasm;
- You are responsible for being consistent in preparation;
- You are responsible for managing your own time;
- You are responsible for understanding who you are and living according to your own set of personal values;
- And…you are responsible for out-preparing in every aspect, your opponent.
- Loses in sport which can be 100% attributed to being out-talented are very very rare: most of the time you have been out-played;
- Being out-played means you were out-prepared;
- And being out-prepared means the loss was largely your own responsibility;
- Take personal responsibility for the “controllables”, out-plan and out-prepare your opponent in every aspect and you have the opportunity to win more often.