The Importance of Attitudes

Is there a difference between the way champions think and the way average athletes think? Yes. Does that difference in thinking explain their success? Partially. There’s a lot that goes into athletic success. Mindset, or the attitudes you hold, plays a key role. But why does attitude matter?

Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. I define attitude as the way you think about something. Attitudes are basically your beliefs. Beliefs are important because they lead to actions and behavior, which lead to outcomes. In other words, Your athletic outcomes are influenced by your actions which are influenced by your beliefs. They are the root, the cause, of the branches and symptoms. Here is a simple example to show the importance attitudes/beliefs.

Belief                                     Action/Behavior                         Outcome
“I can’t do it” --->gives no effort because doesn’t think it’ll be worth it---> Fails because gives no effort
“I can do it” ------> gives effort because he knows it’ll be worth it------>Succeeds because gives effort

It is usually more complicated than this, but the point is, there are certain attitudes that help you reach successful outcomes and there are certain attitudes that prevent you from succeeding.  A big part of a sport psychologist’s job is to help change an athlete’s beliefs and thinking to become more successful and happy. Beliefs and thinking are changed by examining your current beliefs and thought patterns, receiving information, then changing your thoughts for the better.  It is similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy used by clinical psychologists.

But what thoughts, values, beliefs, and attitudes are best for sports? Sport psychologists consider the beliefs that contribute to success, mental health, and social wellbeing to better than the ones that lead to failure, or poor mental health or poor social wellbeing. For example, pessimism lowers confidence, which lowers motivation, which lowers effort, which then lowers achievement, is not an attitude that is widely encouraged by sport psychologist. On the other hand, optimism, which increases confidence which then goes on to increase motivation, effort, and achievement, is an attitude that sport psychologists encourage athletes to adopt.

However, not all values/beliefs/attitudes that contribute to success are encouraged by sport psychologists. For example, having a very high level of ego motivation by wanting to be better than everyone may lead to success but not mental and social health. Many athletes who are only driven by the desire to be better than everyone are not very satisfied with their lives. For most athletes, there is always going to be better players, so you’ll never be completely satisfied, and the need to surpass others can hurt your relationships with your fellow athletes.

The attitude of “winning at all costs” is also discouraged by sport psychologists, because with this attitude, unethical behavior such as cheating and corruption is justified for the sake of winning. This attitude is not very beneficial for society as a whole.

A main job of sport psychologists is helping athletes develop an ideal mindset (collection of values/beliefs/attitudes) that help them reach success while also improves mental health and society as a whole. Throughout this blog, I will teach about effective and healthy attitudes on sports, success, performance, training, coaching, and other topics.