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Mental Game: How an Olympian Prepares for Competitive Challenges

By HERWriter
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How does an Olympian prepare mentally for a once-in-a-lifetime event that can literally be over in seconds, but that will having lasting results for the rest of his or her life? Because of my background as the first American Olympic gold medal aerial skier, motivational speaker and author of a much talked about, new inspirational book, I was honored when the U.S. Olympic Committee asked me to help train the current and upcoming athletes on overcoming challenges, finding motivation, and dealing with these pressures at the Games.

So what are the secrets of the training program that every U.S. Olympian, from Apolo Anton Ohno to Bode Miller to Lindsey Vonn to Shaun White, has to attend before stepping foot on the Vancouver Olympic venues? In highlighting a few of the most intense obstacles presented to the athletes at an Olympic Games, you'll see that my recommendations for coping with their issues can easily be paralleled into the real world.

Fear of failing to make the Olympic podium or even winning the Games

Ask yourself, "If I knew I couldn't fail, what would I try?" After you answer this question, ask yourself why it would be so awful to fail at the task or activity. We learn much more from our failures than we learn from our accomplishments.

Focusing too much on the Olympic medal, extensive media, or hometown parades

We need to learn to live in the moment and concentrate on what we have control over. And that's the process, not the end results. For example, we can't control someone else's impression of our work; we can only control what we produce.

No accountability! Not claiming your goal of winning an Olympic medal or taking the blame when you don't

Most successful individuals will take credit for the good and bad results. Write the challenge down on an index card and tape it to the wall to remind yourself of your goal.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.