Finishing a competition sounds simple and pretty basic. You start. You perform. You finish. It amazes me how many athletes “blow it” by letting up or putting on a show. It’s not just undisciplined it’s lazy, sloppy and insulting to others in the competition. But then a gain, maybe that is their point – to put others down and portray some grandiose image of themselves.
How often does it happen that athletes do not maintain intensity and focus to the finish? Not finishing is a sign of mental weakness not mental toughness. Mentally tough athletes stay intense and focused to the finish. Runners let up at the end of races. Players let up before the goal line. Whether it is to celebrate or show-boat or because they are lazy or complacent or overly confident it doesn’t matter – they don’t finish.
So how about you? Do you finish? Do you stay intense to the finish regardless of your time, place or score?
One behavior that demonstrates mental toughness is tenacity and focus on the task at hand – that play, that competition, that moment – right to the end of the play or competition. Not doing so could mean a loss to your rival, a loss for your team instead of victory or someone scoring on you who shouldn’t. It could mean that by letting up you don’t set a personal record in a race, someone beats you who never has before, you don’t keep your shut-out or you just miss setting a record.
That behavior starts in practices. Athletes must practice finishing. Finish every drill the way they are designed. Finish every practice play as if it were the game. Finish every repeat/interval on the track by crossing the finish-start line – every time. Finish even the worst practice session you’ve ever had. When you can finish even on your worst days you are setting the stage to have breakthrough performances on your good days.
You are training yourself mentally and physically to finish. If you practice to let up as you near the end – that is exactly how you will perform in competition. Someone out there is willing to finish it. They are waiting for you to let up – even just that little bit. They are willing to take advantage by staying with the play; playing to the last whistle or racing to the finish line.
So are you a finisher?
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