5 Non-Obvious Traits of Elite Athletes

28th October 2022


Read time: 3 minutes


What’s the difference between, good and great.

An olympic gold medal winner, to club athlete?

Most of us, when we think of an elite athlete think of words, such as mentally tough, committed, hard-working and so on.

After having done over 100 podcasts with elite athletes around the world and my study in performance psychology.

I was surprised to see that while these sexier traits are true, there are a few traits that don’t get enough airtime.

But for some of these unknown traits, they are found to be a contributor for multiple medal winning olympic athletes, regarded as the super-elite.

So here they are. Notice as you go that they are all free to use and can be brought into your own life.

1. Optimism

It’s easy to find the negative in everything.

But these athletes, ACTIVELY look for the positive in any situation.

Whether that is a shitty training session or a poor performance.

Being able to look for the positive outlook on your situation helps you recognise that there’s an opportunity to grow.

Optimists look for growth.

2. Intrinsically Motivated

Many people focus on the trophy, the win, the result, goals, times, etc. The extrinsic (external) motivations.

When we’re extrinsically motivated, especially if they don’t happen, it creates pressure, anxiety, fatigue and stress.

Extrinsic motivations aren’t in themselves bad. They get us out of bed and strive for more.

But, extrinsic motivations aren’t fully our control, but intrinsic (internal) motivations are 100% in our control.

Elite athletes focus on their intrinsic motivations because they’re in their control, regardless of result, outcome and expectations.

The process of improving, building relationships, challenging themselves, having fun.

Being motivated by reasons for doing something because you love it.

They in turn, help increase your fulfillment, even if the result doesn’t go your way.

3. Using an operating system

This is usually a well-thought-out plan, a routine they don’t steer from or checklist.

Many athletes get told, or don’t even put together a plan.

Most of them journal, use a planner and create a system to use their time effectively.

But not only on a larger scale of what helps work towards the long, medium, short-term goals but at the day to day level too.

Training, diet, recovery, skills.

Everything running to a system that helps keep them accountable and on track.

4. No concerns over mistakes

This doesn’t mean they are reckless.

They practice to not make mistakes, but they don’t dwell on the mistakes that they could make, which leads to doubting your actions (procrastination). Ultimately then not taking any.

They know that from mistakes, you learn something.

And that something, can be turned into growth.

5. Accepting their imperfections

A lot of us struggle to get past the fears of not being accepted by the group. Moulding ourselves to fit in.

Elite athletes do spend time worrying about what they aren’t.

I’d even go so far as to say they are unaware of some of the imperfections that they have.

They embrace the ‘flaws’ that they have, use them as a competitive advantage as to what makes them unique, to stand out.

Accepting your imperfections is another way of getting past the fear of failure, concerns over mistakes and doubting actions.

There we have it. The great thing about all of these traits? You can totally do them for free!

Whenever you're ready, there is a couple of ways I can help you:

MindStrong Sport App – Mental Skills Training for Athletes

Personal Mindset Coaching - Contact for more

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