The “Other” “1%” of Sport Success

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“Nothing is a substitute for appropriate preparation. Certainly athletes can get overwhelmed focusing on the details and miss the big picture. There’s no substitute for being prepared physiologically. But attention to the “other” details isn’t a substitute. It’s part of what’s required to be truly excellent. And that’s what is required on October 12th.”Jordan Rapp (taken from his blog posted on 7/31/13)

What is the “other” that Jordan Rapp, professional long course triathlete, is referring to? If you read the full blog post he is referring to aspects of a race and the small details that make it key to perform with excellence, besides just posting fast times. Likewise, Lauren Goss’s recent post (7/15/13) titled “The 1%”.  She states, So after reading this you may think I am a freak. However, the things I did in between the races are why I was able to do this successfully. It all sounds tedious but giving the extra 1% is the only way I will be successful since I am not some uber talented athlete.”

As a sport psychologist I love blog posts like this! Professional triathletes highlighting the importance of dedicating time, attention, and consistency to the “other” “1%” details that contribute to making them a successful athlete, other than just pointing to “natural talent” or how fast one needs to be in swimming, biking, and running in order to be a champion.  While I am not in the business of physiologically getting an athlete faster, stronger, or technically efficient, I am in the business of helping an athlete increase focus, attention, and control of  the “other” “1%” details. For example, learning to mentally recover from a flat, poor transition, losing your nutrition, or being passed at some point during the race is a skill. Remember my past blog post on the difference between a “Stress Reactor” versus a “Stress Responder”? Well developing the ability to have confidence in every potential stress situation is a learned skill. Believe me I’ve come across way too many people and athletes that don’t have awareness of their unconscious learned ways of dealing with stress, conflicts, or crisis. On the other hand, I have also come across athletes that don’t realize that their personal life and their sport are interrelated. Tiger Woods is perfect example of when his marriage when down the tubes so did his golf performance, and don’t get me started on athletes that use performance enhancing drugs. Ghandi said, “One man cannot do right in one department of life (sport) while he is occupied doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.” Lauren Goss illustrated this nicely. She said that she knowingly sacrifices her social life in order to have the time to dedicate to “other” “1%” details. As a sport psychologist I also help athletes examine the unexamined parts of their life that maybe impacting their sport performance. Sometimes values, relationships, habits, careers, material things in their life may need to be tightened up, changed, removed, or improved in order to increase confidence and stability.

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However, it is important to know that if you really want to tap into your inner excellence you must stop using the excuses such as, “there is nothing more I can do” “I’m doing all I can” “I’m not naturally talented, fast, strong, etc. etc.” or “I don’t need help,” and get to examining the blind spots in your life. You must also get over your pride/ego in doing the little things with just as much care and detail as you do with your training plan, race day gear, attending to your bike, etc. It’s very easy to overlook the “small” stuff but that’s exactly the stuff that counts!

Readers, I challenge you to examine your “other” and tweek that “1%” in your life. It could be anything from getting better organized, doing visualization practices, monitoring your self-talk, saying something positive to yourself every 10 minutes, doing 3 minutes of meditation a day, practicing transitions, giving up alcohol, going vegetarian, changing coaches, or hiring a sport psychologist. Whatever you do, do so with awareness and intention that you are making an small shift towards taping into your “1%” and therefore living closer to your full potential.

I am also happy to share that I will be traveling to Kona , Hawaii with Trimarni of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. In case you don’t follow her blog (which you should it is an amazing source of inspiration, food and nutrition goodness, and healthy living) she qualified for Kona Ironman World Championships at IM Lake Placid and PR’d! Big ups to Marni as she prepares for her 7th Ironman and 3rd World Championship Performance…it’s going to be EPIC trip and amazing experience.  Marni is a also an amazing example of an athlete whom is always seeking to learn and improve herself to reach higher levels of personal excellence. Way to go Marni!

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Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli

Dr. Petruzzelli is sport and performance psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher located in Sacramento, California and works with elite sport teams and athletes across the country. She is competitive athlete herself and enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family and traveling.