me kay cooke


Today’s tip is about developing a champion mindset in this case, while playing a sport. We’re going to use the example of tennis but the mindset applies to all sports.


This is based on a real coaching session with an 11-year-old girl.

It may be helpful for any young person at school as well as any adult looking to brain train for success.


Why is a champion mindset important?

Have you ever experienced thoughts like:

I’m not as good as before”

“I’m not as good as him or her”

“I’m going to lose this (match)”


Because this type of thinking can make you feel disappointed, which in turn can lead to you not performing as well. This is called de-motivation and it doesn’t feel good does it?


Do you remember that time you really wanted to win a match/situation (your goal), and as soon as you realised you couldn’t win the match/situation (couldn’t achieve your goal), you felt disappointed with your performance?


When you feel de-motivated, it feels bad doesn’t it, and also affects your whole performance.


The good news is that when you develop a different ‘mindset’ like one that champion sports people use – you get to stay feeling motivated.


It’s all about changing the goal, and here’s how to do it.


A new mindset strategy

First of all, know the difference between a short-term goal and a long-term goal.


A short-term goal might be to eat a snack because you’re hungry, whereas a long-term goal might be to have a healthy body.


If you only focus on the short-term goal i.e. to satisfy hunger, you could easily eat lots of unhealthy foods every time. This may be OK in the short term, but can have disastrous long-term consequences for health. People who teach their brains to only pay attention to short-term goals often forget the really important future person they want to be.


So you can see that ‘winning the tennis match’ is a short-term goal. It is a useful short-term goal so long as you also have a strategy to stay motivated and feeling great so you perform at your best and we can call this your champion’s mindset.


Using this champion’s mindset, you don’t let feelings of disappointment de-motivate you. Instead you learn how world-class sportspeople stay motivated and start to train your mind to think like them.


How world-class sportspeople stay motivated is by believing in ‘continual improvement, which means they keep asking themselves “how much can I improve my performance?” rather than “how can I win the match”.


A great question to ask yourself is “just how well can I play next time?” or even more important “how much fun can I have playing tennis next time?”


Having fun creates powerful brain chemistry that helps you learn faster and more easily.


Let’s look at taking feedback from the last performance and feeding it forwards into the next performance.


Mental rehearsal is key

Using your imagination – on purpose – is a really smart way to imporove your performance and success. Developing your mind’s eye through the skill of visualisation (I call it Imagineering) will really help you learn and revise at school and become a better performer in all areas of life, including sport.


Here’s how: Close your eyes and imagine yourself playing your next sports match (or other performance).

See yourself performing effortlessly and easily moving your body around the court, pitch or track and if you’re playing tennis, notice how you serve and return with absolute precision.


Now use your imagination to become that future you and what do you see? What do you hear as the ball rebounds perfectly from the centre of your racquet? How does it feel when your muscles and joints are smooth and powerful?


This is a mental rehearsal for a short-term goal. It sets your brain towards a useful target, which is, to get better at playing tennis.


Where else might this be useful?

There are so many ways you can use this strategy, perhaps you can think of some right now?


Let’s look at going to sleep at night.


The long-term goal is to be healthy, alert and full of energy.


The short-term goal is to wake up each morning feeling refreshed.


What could stop you doing this? Mind clutter! Lots of thoughts bouncing around inside your brain!


So use your imagination to mentally rehearse the short-term goal by imagining a cool, blue mist beginning to rise up inside your mind, slowly dissolving away each of the ‘mind chatter’ words. Notice how it swirls and hear the sounds as each words dissolves. Feel the coolness and refreshing mist spread calmness throughout your resting body.



What next?

There are many ways you can develop your champion mindset including:

  • Asking yourself ‘good and useful questions’ to achieve your goals
  • Taking more tips from world class performers
  • Dealing with feedback from others
  • Switching off unhelpful mind chatter
  • Developing your Imagineering skills


These are my ideas – what do you think we should talk about next time?


One last thing – remember:

“Whatever you are practice, you get good at” so the more you are practising this new strategy, the more you are improving your thoughts, feelings and performance.


Until next time – remember Happy Brain – where you learn about your thinking, learn about your feelings and learning how to drive your happy brain!

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