Think Like a Champion

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Think Like a Champion


Mindset is without a doubt the difference between winning a losing. A lot of people are strong, mobile, and athletic, but not many people have the mental capacity to win. Lately I have become fascinated with this subject. My wife and I talk about it almost daily. I have been questioning most of my friends that are National and World Champions as well as some of the pro athletes that I have trained. I want to know what mental preparation is common amongst winners.

Are their common traits teachable? I think so. Are you willing to let go of your mental baggage? That’s the real question. Are you ready to quit lying to yourself with negative thoughts? I hope so.

Here are some common traits amongst winners:

1. A positive self-image. Every champion believes that they should win. They are going to believe that they are unbeatable. If they get beat, they are going to figure out the reason why and correct it.

It starts with what you say about yourself and to yourself. If you say that you practice well, but freeze up in competition, then you will. Champions will say that they are gamers, and that they compete better than they practice.

Positive parents and/or friends probably reinforced these thoughts. A positive self-image comes easily to people that grow up in positive homes. If you didn’t grow up around positive people, then you have to shift those negative thoughts. Those negative thoughts are normally lies, so get rid of them.

I want you to surround yourself with positive people, and I want you to be the most positive person on earth. I want you to be positive to yourself and others. What you say and believe is what you will become.

2. Visualization or rehearsal-This is a mindset technique that came easy to me. I have a vivid imagination, so I can literally design the exact set of a competition in my brain. I can hear the noises. I can see the crowd and the background. I can literally smell the smells. I can put myself in a real competition situation.


By using this technique, I have rehearsed a big moment thousands of times before it actually happens. When the time comes, it is like I have already been there and done that. If you practice this technique, winning becomes so much easier.

I remember winning my first World Championship. I was competing against some of the best lifters in powerlifting history. Chuck Vogulpuhl was there. Jesse Kellum and Kenny Patterson were there. Louie Simmons was in the back coaching his athletes. At that time I was new on the scene, so no one was picking me to win except me.

I had already rehearsed this moment thousands of times. I was ready. I wasn’t even nervous. I was excited to be there, and I was ready to take what was mine. I won that meet easily, and I broke four world records in the process. I was calm the entire time all because I had practiced the event in my brain.

Each lift begins with a few seconds of visualizing the completion of the perfect lift, and then I approach the bar and turn on autopilot. The last thing that you want to do is over think the lift. That will slow you down, and ultimately that will cause failure. The key is to visualize it, and then go do it.

3. Find a pattern! This part is crucial. Too many people will warm up one way, take an opening lift another way, and then go for a personal record in a whole other way. This is a recipe for disaster. Find an approach and execution that is the same time. This means approach the bar or task the same way with the same attitude. Then use the same set up, taking the same amount of time, and use the exact same technique for all lifts. This will help you switch to autopilot after visualization.

I have several of my lifters that do this already. Not surprisingly, the ones that perform the worst in big competitions haven’t figured this out yet. The ones that win all the time are perfect in this area. Find a pattern and go with it! If you are eight weeks away from a competition, don’t try and switch technique. A proper pattern is more important than your technique.

4. Practice and visualize for all things that might happen in a competition. I recommend that you make a list of all the things that might go wrong like getting rushed, or taking twenty minutes between attempts. You can practice those things with performing the lifts every minute on the minute, or taking multiple waves in your sets.

Mentally practice missing your first two attempts to come back and hit the last attempt. That is the toughest situation to be in, so I suggest preparing mentally for that exact moment. Depending on your sport define all the bad situations and prepare.

5. Visualize victory! I used to visualize victory long before I actually experienced it. I used to dream about winning the world championships. I could hear the roar of the crowd. I could feel the beat of my heart. I had been there a thousand times before I actually got there.

Junior Lifters

If you visualize victory enough, you will expect to win. It becomes a part of the process versus a dream. Winning is the ultimate carrot, so I must be the ultimate donkey.

Winning is a mindset! It’s a state of being. You might not have it now, but you can work towards it. I suggest that you spend at least as much time on thinking like a champion as you do on programming or nutrition. It is a part of the puzzle that you can’t do without, but you have the ability to achieve it just believe it. A little cheesy, but it is the absolute truth.

I watch so many Internet gurus talking about the perfect training protocol, and yet they have never won anything. How are you going to teach me to win if you are constantly losing? You can hear a loser talking in the way that they say things. They blame others, or they make excuses. They are mad because no one is doing their program. It’s their attitude. You can’t talk like that, and expect a champion to follow you. Champions are drawn to champions. Figure that out, and then you won’t have to make excuses.

I want you all to start visualizing a new you. You are the one that kills it in a competition. You are going to rehearse perfections. You are going to perfect a pattern. You are going to practice for any situation. You are going to visualize victory. You are going to win!

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