The W – Word: Winning.

The W – Word: Winning.


I am getting so sick of people talking about high performance environments, about following a process, about systems, about structures, about programs, about initiatives, about workshops and about strategies.

The name of the game is Winning – oops – there I said it.

Winning. Winning. Winning. There, I said it again.

That felt great. I’ll say it some more. Winning. Winning. Winning. Winning.

That felt so good I’ll do it again. Winning!! Winning!!!! Winning!!!!!

The W Word: Winning.

Time to Talk about Winning:

Everyone talks about “doing your best” and “trying really hard” and “never giving up” and “achieving my personal best” but when is the last time you heard someone stand up and with real courage, commitment and conviction say, I am here to win”?

So let’s start thinking about winning, talking about winning and doing things in training, preparation and competition that make winning as certain as night follows day, dogs chase cats, and having to pay far too much income tax.

Winning. To come first. To be the best. To be better than your competition. To be the leader.

All these things sound really positive and are worth striving for but why have they become so difficult to talk about and so rare to find?

Because talking “winning” means putting yourself “on the line”.

It means making a clear statement that your intention is to win and that coming second is unacceptable. Making a statement like “I am here to win” means you have made a commitment that nothing except the Gold Medal or the Premiership Cup matters.

It is absolute – it is finite – there is no misunderstanding: you thirst to be first! You want to go for the gold and leave the silverware for someone making a dinner setting.

And that’s why it is so scary and so intimidating for so many people.

There is no “out” clause, no excuses, no alternatives – it’s win or it’s lose. When you declare “I am going for the win” there is no ambiguity, no confusion…winning means winning.

It’s OK to talk about pushing for the podium, to go for the gold and to want to win…..if and this is a big if, your winning thoughts and winning words are supported by winning actions.

Winning Thoughts:

Winning thoughts – The process of winning begins with Winning thoughts. Winning thoughts are dreams, and everyone dreams.  They are those moments when your spirit soars, when your imagination flies and you dream about achieving great things.

They are the fire – the inspiration for all the great things you want to do and will do in the future. Lots of people dream about winning. Lots of people can even imagine (visualise) themselves holding up the Olympic Gold, doing the press conference in front of the world’s media and some people even imagine what they will say when they get asked “So what does it feel like to be the Olympic Champion”.

Having winning thoughts is not the issue…’s going to the next step and saying (and meaning) Winning Words.  


Winning Words:

Winning words – If your dreams are the fire – the spark of your winning ways, then your words, i.e. your winning words, are your fuel.

We all use some form of self talk in everyday life: you know that little voice that says “I can do this” or “This isn’t so tough” or “Hang in there – this pain will pass”.

Winning is about taking these inner voices and actually giving them a real voice. Letting winning thoughts out and hearing them makes them real. It takes them out of the world of dreams and imagination and into the real world where they can be heard: by you and others.

Saying it is one thing…now comes the big step: turning winning words into winning actions.


Winning Actions:

Winning actions…and the key to it all is action. Winning thoughts are easy to think. Winning words are easy to say.  But winning actions….they require something different: they require your energy, your enthusiasm, your commitment and you taking responsibility to make your dreams real.

It’s easy to dream “Wow – I really wish I could win”.

It’s easy to say “I really want to win”.

But the reason why so many people never actually win is that they are not prepared to do what it takes to prepare to win.

This is surprising as most athletes, players and coaches already know what it will take to win – they just don’t do it.

And knowing how to win but not doing it, produces the same result as not knowing how to win.

Look through the “Magic Window”:

Imagine for a moment you were looking through a magic window at the best athlete in the world in your sport or at the best player in your position in your competition. It could be the person who will win the Olympic Gold medal in your event. Or it could be the best player in your position in the world. Imagine what they would be doing right now…..

They are in a pool somewhere in the world – or on a field – or on a court – or in a gym, doing what you are doing: training, stretching, warming up, warming down, doing drills and all the other stuff that you do every day in every training session.

But…’s not what they are doing that makes the difference and makes them the best…………’s how they are doing it.

  • They got to training early and did some extra stretching and strengthening work;
  • They had their own drink bottle and drank regularly throughout the training session;
  • They attacked every task like it was the final moments of the Olympic final or the final seconds of the championship game;
  • They executed every skill with competition quality power and speed;
  • They finished off every repeat with focus and concentration practicing maintaining technique under fatigue and pressure conditions;
  • They completed all their training to the best of their ability – holding nothing back in spite of the pain and discomfort;
  • As soon as the training session finished, they immediately started recovering from training and began the preparation process for the next session.

They made a decision that they would out-train, out-stretch, out-strengthen, out-work, out-believe, out-recover and out-prepare any athlete in their sport in the world and that’s why they will win.

They had a dream – they spoke it – they believed it – they put it into action and…they will win.

So, my question to you is this…“if you know what it will take to be the best in the world in your sport…why aren’t you doing it now?”

You’ve got the dream.

You know the words.

You know what actions you have to take….so do it!

You can do it.



  1. So don’t be afraid of thinking about and talking about winning: winning is a good thing;
  2. But…..and this is the key to it all….it’s only cool to think about and talk about winning if you then turn your winning thoughts and winning words into winning actions with outstanding, consistently brilliant and uncompromisingly excellent training and preparation;
  3.  And, if you don’t win….learn, learn, learn from it. Winning means improvement and improvement comes from learning. So every experience, win, lose or draw, is learning. Learn more – improve faster – win more often;
  4. What the mind can conceive, and with words will believe, the body can achieve.

Wayne Goldsmith



  • Jeremy Pryce Posted October 11, 2010 7:17 pm

    This is all well and good Wayne, and you know I´m a huge fan, but if winning becomes the end focus, we´re setting ourselves up for failure, for the simple fact is that you can´t control the competition or the officials (unless you want to bribe them). I´ll focus on doing things right and to the best of my ability and letting the chips fall where they may. If I can look myself in the mirror and know that I have given it my all, then I´m a winner even if I come in last.

    I know world record athletes, olympic gold medalists etc who don´t always do the right things or even put in their best effort in preperation for that matter. I think they win because of their mental attitude and have a fair amount of confidence in their ability to do “enough” for the task at hand. I´ve concluded that these athletes get their head right first and then act from the inspiration of their mental attitude. The athletes that win the big ones are generally those that can hold on to the mental “end result” in the face of whatever “reality” is “going on” around them (environment).

    Action ispired by inner drive is what´ll get you over the top.


    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted October 11, 2010 8:25 pm

      Thanks JP.

      Understand your comments – and thank you for expressing them.

      I went to a High Performance Coaches Conference recently and listened to presenter after presenter talk about everything except “Winning”.
      I sat there wondering why? The post came out of that moment.

      I often say to athletes that your own personal responsibility is to prepare better, more consistently than anyone in your event (or position) in your competition. You can control that.
      You can control when you go to bed.
      You can control what you put in your mouth.
      You can control how engaged you are in the training session.

      Agree with you that the decisions of officials and even “luck” can have a big influence on results but it is critical that athletes think in terms of being the best they can be in all aspects of planning and preparation.

      That way, when a Winning opportunity arises, they are ready for it.

      Thanks again – great comment.


  • Jamie Posted October 11, 2010 7:35 pm

    Hi Wayne

    Good post

    Matthew Pinsent was rumoured to have a poster on his bedroom wall as a teenager:

    Every day people train to increase the possibility of winning. Champions train to eliminate the possibility of loosing.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted October 11, 2010 8:27 pm

      Thanks Jamie.

      Great stuff.

      Some things just make sense.

      I loved that sign at the USOC Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs, “Not every four years…every day”.

      Thanks again,


  • Jeremy Pryce Posted October 13, 2010 3:22 pm

    I hear you Wayne. We´re in agreement at root.

    @Jamie: I´ll use that quote!! Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers guys!!


  • Thom Posted October 22, 2010 9:39 am

    I spent a lot of time under a very winning rugby league coach this season.

    His attitude with the players is to “win” everthing they do. Winning in that sense is not just about winning the game, but winning every tackle, winning every contest be it in training or in game.

    This approach seems to create a culture of winning! The players are winners because they are winning everything they do.

    Someone once said that winning is a habit. What better way to create that habit?


  • Wayne Goldsmith Posted October 22, 2010 10:46 am

    Good comment.

    I often think about this.

    I have worked with some very very talented coaches and athletes, who train very hard and get very close to winning but don’t get the Gold medal or victory they deserve.

    And like you, I have worked with other coaches and athletes who have some gaps in their knowledge in things like sports science, technology and high performance systems but somehow keep winning when it matters.

    A good friend of mine, Legend Swim coach Bill Sweetenham, said to me recently, “there is a huge difference between a good coach and a winning coach.
    Good coaches know how to coach. Winning coaches know how to win.
    Good coaching is about knowledge, skills, communication and technical understanding. Winning is about the intangible stuff – about inspiring athletes to get the most out of their talent and opportunities.
    You can teach good coaching – but can you teach winning coaching?”.

    A good topic for another post.



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