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Sport (and Life) is About Choices

Every moment of every day we make choices.  We choose whether to get up when the alarm goes off or hit the snooze button.  We choose which path to take to get to work or training.  We choose what to eat for lunch and when.  We choose how hard we work/train.

Many of these choices seem to be made almost subconsciously.  We feel like we don’t give them a lot of thought, we just make them and away we go.  But whilst it might feel like a lot of our daily choices are subconscious it’s important to recognise that they are not.

Too many people want to believe that much of what they do every day is out of their conscious control. This kind of an attitude breeds feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and a lack of confidence to make changes in our lives.

The reality is that we are in control of the vast majority of things we do everyday.  Whether we get up early or not, whether we turn left or right, whether we eat well or eat poorly.

Whilst athletes can seem to have it all together, they too can be guilty of not taking responsibility for their choices.  Any serious athlete sets himself or herself a goal.  Whether it’s a training goal, a competition goal, or a life goal – they have a goal.  In order to achieve their goals they must make the right choices more often than they make the wrong choices.

No one will ever “always” make the right choices but elite athletes need to make the right choices more often than not.  More specifically, we are talking about the choice to be the athlete they want to be. Whether they want to be a natural, a fighter, a worker, or a star they need to make the right choices to be that athlete.

So, what are the choices we are talking about?  We are talking about everything from being organised the night before so that they get up and get to training early and not late.  We are talking about eating the right things at the right time to maintain a healthy competitive weight.  We are talking about integrating the mental game into physical training in order to prepare more completely.  In short, we are talking about choosing to be excellent.

Choosing to be excellent involves a number of different things.  The first is about consciously acknowledging what it takes to be excellent in sport.  This is about setting a standard or a benchmark for what is necessary for success in that sport.

The second is about making sure that they make the right choices to reach that standard.  Making the right choice is rarely easy but then being excellent in sport is not easy.

The final part of choosing to be excellent comes down to being honest and acknowledging that if they make the wrong choices then they can’t expect to get the result.

In this way achieving excellence in sport is very simple.  If you make the right choices, then you will achieve to your potential time and time again.  If you make the wrong choices, then you won’t.

Some athletes make their chances of success so much slimmer by making the wrong choices over and over again and then refusing to believe that they have control over these sorts of things.  The reality is that we have much more control over these things than we think.

On of the most “excellent” athletes I have had the privilege of working with keeps a small (homemade) poster on her kitchen wall.  It reads,

“A champion:

  • sleeps well every night
  • always eats the right food
  • is at training early
  • does the extra work that others don’t
  • has a goal for every session”

This poster is her way of identifying what excellence in sport is.  Everyday she makes the right choices to achieve excellence in her sport.  That is why she is so successful and that is why she is enjoying every minute of it.

Mental Notes Consulting has a team of dedicated consultants who can help you to make the right choices in sport.  For more information or to tell us about your success stories in making the right choices in your sport feel free to send us an email at

Matt Ahlberg | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS