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Henry Rollins photo by NNDB.com


It is what is. It’s only uttered by people who experienced a setback or are just miserable. I’ve never heard it by someone holding up a trophy. Although, my goal is to have an athlete hold up a trophy and is so consumed by the process that they say, “hey, it is what it is.”  

A focus on winning doesn’t lead to winning, a focus on the process does. However, our thoughts are often directed on the result and the outcome. When we do this, we welcome the ugly guest of FEAR into our game. Here’s 10 ways to forget about the outcome.

1) Talk to a teammate or competitor- Get outside of our own head, we are behind enemy lines. Andrew Luck actually congratulates guys who sack him! 

2) TELL yourself what you’re going to do next!- don’t ask questions in competition, it only brings forth doubt.

3) Make the picture big- When I focus on going on vacation or that dinner date next week, I get happy.  One of my players loved eating so much, he would talk about where we were going afterwards. Make the picture even bigger, we must know that it all works out, because it has so far.

4) Make the picture small again- Focus just on making one play, the next one!

5) Breathe- Breathe and look for the opportunity. 

6) Rock, Paper, Scissors- If you’ve got a sport with some down time, play a quick game! It reduces the tension. check it out here…

7) Repeat your mantra- hopefully you have one… what refocuses you?

8) Think about your family- I get happy when I think about mine, but it also kicks in the drive.

9) Think about your behind– You know, your past successes. If all we had were good memories, how would you play?

10) Act as if- Before I take the stage or work with a team, I act as if I am Henry Rollins or Bobby Jones. How would someone better than me act?


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

You may know the feeling… Cold water and lack of oxygen jolts you: you realize that you jumped in way over your head.  Limbs are flailing, lungs are gasping, and your mind can’t focus on anything but the struggle between fighting to breathe, and giving up completely…Maybe it’s just your morning shower or perhaps as I thought and did, “Hey, triathlons would be a good idea!”

This was my situation as I attempted the longest open water swim course I had ever swum.

The “swim-for-dear-life” technique is not very effective. When you are under the influence of Fear, most of your energy is wasted. I wasn’t swimming hard enough that day to really raise my heart rate.  But the most powerful tool fear uses is the endless cycle of “what-ifs” and “negative thinking”.

I was not just exerting myself physically.  I was also mentally spiraling back and forth between belief in myself and doubt. There was a distinct moment halfway through when I recognized that my doubts and fear had a cold grip on me.

Fear is between you and your goals and there are two things you must do.

1. Get in touch with your motivation.  What is your “why” for racing? I was in this water because I had an even bigger race goal, the following month.  I knew that I had freely chosen this event, had trained properly for it, and needed it in order to accomplish the bigger goal.  Aligning with your original motivation for the task at hand will give you the needed courage.

2. Focus. Have a “mantra” – something to repeat to yourself that would be encouraging in times of stress.  I have a favorite prayer that is short and sweet, and repeating it to myself put my strokes to a rhythm and cleared my mind.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard

 About the Author: Elyssa Smith is a triathlete and distance runner. She and her husband own Runnertainment, a sportainment company that provides encouragement for runners and multisport athletes. Elyssa is now pursuing her master’s degree in counseling and sports psychology.   Elyssa@runnertainment.com

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