“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, the great coaches coach Vince Lombardi said that…
From Dirt Issue 138 – August 2013
Words by Darren Roberts. Photo by Sports Illustrated/Getty.
His name might not be well known in MTB circles, as he was one of the most successful NFL coaches ever, working with the Green Bay Packers in the 60’s. However he’s extremely well known in elite coaching circles due to his work ethic, leadership and motivational ability – the coach’s coach. He also said something else, that winning wasn’t something that happened once in a while, you don’t just do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning can be a habit, and so can losing.
This may seem like a strange thing to say, but winning (or more accurately the self belief and expectation that you will win, which in turn becomes the reality you create) can become a habit. I’m also partial to some philosophising myself at times, and I’m going to share with you something I said to one of the athletes recently, “Winning can be a habit. The expectation of victory and the assumption of success is nothing to be ashamed of. Let that feeling feed you, and starve everyone else…’
I’m not a sports psychologist, an armchair NLP practitioner or been watching ‘300’ too much, but I know unequivocally that athletes can create upward spirals for themselves and that winning CAN become a habit. Then suddenly everyone starts looking at what they’re doing and why rather than concentrating on their own game and controlling what they can control. Before you know it, people are reacting to someone rather than taking action, and this can be a frame of mind, so it’s very hard to see or sense if you’re working with that athlete. Whispers, rumours, relayed conversations and interviews start to build a picture of what that successful athlete is doing, and as always one or two things are seized upon as the silver bullets which seem to be guaranteeing their success. This is so far from the truth it’s almost laughable, but breaking one of the ultimate performance rules of ‘learn, don’t copy’ is commonplace in all sports. I’ve seen a lower premiership football team adopt a protocol from one of the top teams. It was a disaster.
Dominant performances are the result of years of extremely hard work, enormous attention to detail and being surrounded by people who are all aligned towards the same goal – to create success. When you add to that an athlete with utter self–belief, supported on this incredible foundation, they consume confidence out of the air seemingly starving everyone else of it. They’ve done the things other athletes haven’t, they’ve paid attention to the details others have missed… and that’s not just the athlete but the entire team and support in place. When everyone is committed to providing the athlete with the tools, education and environment to express their potential, winning then becomes a habit.Darren Roberts is Head of High Performance at Red Bull UK working with the likes of the Atherton family, Danny MacAskill, MX enduro star David Knight and many, many others.
This article is part of the Work Out series. You can find the rest of Darren Roberts’ training tips through the links below: