Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making waves in the big pond!

On their pathway to higher competition, athletes find themselves adapting to different levels of competition and moving from being the "big fish in the little pond" to the "little fish in the big pond" as a recent article in the SIRC Collection says. This move from being the best at one level to being one of the many who are the best at the next can often be a psychological challenge for many talented athletes. Managing these complex emotions can be key to transitioning the athlete's performance.

Tips from the author:
  • Focus on being your best. Comparing ourselves to others leads to focusing on our faults which causes declining confidence.
  • Focus on the present. Don't get distracted by long-term goals or previous accomplishments, focus on how you can make the most of your current opportunities.
  • Be coachable. You may have to make changes to your training to fit in with your new level of competition, you need to be open to the changes and willing to listen and learn.
  • Make the most of your new resources. New levels of competition may bring new specialists (strength training, nutritionists, psychologists, etc.) to your coaching team. 
  • Keep perspective. While your sporting achievements make up your athletic identity do not forget that it is only one part of a well-rounded person.
  • Develop good habits now. Never delay learning all the little things and details that will improve your overall skill, bad habits learned early may be amplified at higher skill levels.
  • Learn from Others. Talking to others who have "been there" may help you skip some of the pitfalls or better prepare you for what transitions lie ahead.
In the end, being open to learning new things and taking time to recognize accomplishments helps give an athlete a better perspective on transitioning to higher levels of competition. Athletes achieve their new levels by challenging themselves to be better. Keep the focus on moving forward and making personal improvements!

Source from the SIRC Collection:
Kimball, A.C. (2012). Making the Transition. Splash, 20(2). 16.

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