In this article, athletes and competitors will discover the power of a growth mindset to improve performance.

What is a growth mindset for athletes?

It never ceases to amaze me how small of a percentage of the general sports world there is that really takes advantage of developing their mental skills. I’ve conducted numerous workshops for youth sports teams and coaches over the years teaching mental toughness skills.

In my workshops, there are always some athletes that hang on my every word:

  • Volleyball playerthey ask questions
  • they participate
  • they take notes
  • I can see that they are paying attention to everything we do in the workshop

And then there’s those other athletes that are less engaged than when watching a television commercial at home on their couch.

Case in point: A volleyball camp hired me to teach their players mental toughness for two hours at the end of the camp.

The Volleyball Camp

Volleyball teamThere were about 30 players that had gone through 2 days of volleyball skills training and so that’s what I prepared for. Only 6 players out of those 30 stayed those last 2 hours and the rest went home. Can you believe that?

There was no extra charge for my training, it was part of the camp and they went home. It seems that old school prevailing attitude in sports that says that all you have to do to reach your potential is to have the following:

  • good teacher of fundamental skills
  • practice those skills repetitively
  • and then make sure your physical conditioning is at it’s peak

Hah! Wrong.

The real tragedy here is this old school attitude is often promoted erroneously by coaches!

While this may have been true a couple generations ago, today, the competition is much more fierce with many more tools and resources at an athlete’s disposal than ever before. You snooze, you lose these days.

(and this applies to coaches just the same).

“I’m not young enough to know everything” – Oscar Wilde

So what’s the difference between these 2 types of athletes?

It’s a “GROWTH MINDSET.”Volleyball champion

A growth mindset means that your dominant thinking pattern is centered around something like:

“What ELSE can I learn or do to improve my ability to achieve my goals?”

Now, the good news for you if you do have such a growth mindset is that you can go out to your competition knowing you have a huge advantage over those that don’t and you can use this fact to help build your confidence.

This is exactly how I was and still am able to compete as a very under-sized athlete.

How to have a “GROWTH MINDSET?”

Growing your mind is not just about expanding your knowledge about a topic you’re interested in. It’s about expanding your understanding of YOURSELF in the process of achieving your desired outcome. In other words, it’s constantly asking yourself things like:

“What’s holding me back?”

“Who knows more than me that I can learn from?”

“What is it about me that I keep making that type of mistake?”

“What am I not even aware of that I don’t know?”

Athletes with a growth mindset understand this concept very well:

  1. The more you know, the more you realize how little you know.

Now, this doesn’t just apply to sports, it applies to everything in life.

Volleyball coachingYou can keep yourself in your box of thinking by believing you already know everything you need to know OR you can commit to yourself right now that you are not only open to new knowledge but you are going to actively seek knowledge, new experiences and input from others. The key to adopting this attitude is in being fearless, but that’s another topic.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
― Socrates

I’m Craig Sigl,
Your Mental Toughness Trainer