August 17th, 2018

Training Matters: Learn from watching Olympians

By Medicine Hat News on February 9, 2018.

Well, it is my favorite time again, the Winter Olympics officially begin today. The time where all of a sudden you can’t get enough of the live competition streams, and you’ve become a self-proclaimed pro in every sport you’ve never really watched.

Aside from the excitement of country rivalries and your favourite sport’s highlights, there is lots that we can learn from watching the Olympics. So turn on a broadcast for yourself, your family, or your friends, and take notice of the world’s greatest athletes.

The first and most obvious thing we can learn from Olympians is discipline. If you follow them on any social media you know that they’ve been building up to this time for days, weeks, months, and years. Most of them since the last Olympics; for some of them this is their first Games and they’ve been training their whole lives for this moment. They have trained, they have eaten, they have hydrated, and they have planned with the most discipline they possibly could, so that they know they’re stepping out onto the world stage as ready as they possibly could be.

In watching these athletes, we can see and learn their focus. The way that the whole world is watching, but to them, it is just them and their sport. They are tuned in on the sequences they must perform, and have tuned out the cues that don’t have any relevance on their performance. They’ve got a plan in place, and strategies ready to help them maintain this focus when they’re in this high-pressure situation. Zoned in and ready for action, their focus is something that an athlete of any calibre should desire to replicate.

Passion is a word that can be too easily tossed around, but when you see true passion, you can feel it. You see the passion in these Olympians as they express the raw emotions that come with the understanding that they’re living their dream. Expression in their performances becomes so real on their faces and in their movements; you get chills because you can imagine what it would be like if you were in their shoes, skates, or boots. You see the hours and hours of training and effort pour out of their souls and onto the stage, you know that they were meant to be there in this exact moment, and their love for their sport is evident.

The final thing we can all learn and take away from watching these Olympic Games is the pride that these athletes show, whether on the top of the podium or not. These athletes bring their most respectful behaviours (most of the time), attitudes, and personality traits to the events, as they’re representing more than their sport. They’re representing a country back home of athletes that strive to achieve this same goal one day, too. They carry the pride of a nation with the utmost honour, knowing that they’re competing for themselves, but also for their home. You see it on their face and feel it in their performance, and in the case of the Canadian athletes, you see it in that Maple Leaf we know is all of ours.

So watch the big names, watch the underdogs, and watch the up and coming juveniles. These games can teach us more than who is the best of the best. They can teach us how the best bring their best, and how we can all be a little better because of it.

Courtney Marchesin, MA, sport psychology consultant, is the mental skills coach for the Alberta Sport Development Centre’s athlete enhancement program. She can be contacted at courtneymarchesin@gmail.com.

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