I’m fascinated by Biathlon, a sport which requires top endurance on the (cross country) skis and extreme focus when shooting, the perfect blend of physical pain and mental focus.
The season just ended last week-end with French Martin Fourcade winning a 7th overall crystal globe in a row, doing better than Norwegian legend Ole Einar Bjørndalen, and this just a few weeks after winning 3 Gold Medals in the recent Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
To understand a little bit more of what it takes to be a great biathlete and what mental skills are involved, here is an interesting article from the NYtimes:
How to manage Stress like an Olympic Biathlete
The keys the article mentions are the following:
- Be prepared
- Exhale slowly to reduce stress and increase alertness (when approaching the shot part)
- Be mindful
- Focus on the task, not the results.
- Compete against yourself, nobody else.
This applies to many sports.
Despite how exhausting it is to be always so mentally focused throughout the season, Martin Fourcade has mastered these skills to a level that enabled him to be on the podium of 20 out of the 21 races of the season. The only one he failed to be on the podium was the very last one, when he had already won the overall crystal globe, the spring and the pursuit globes and just needed to finish 28th to win the mass-start globe.
“Unconsciously, when you have reached your goals and you know that you just need to finish 28th, it’s hard to do what it takes to win” said Martin Fourcade after the race. That makes you realize the power of the mind. In a positive way … and in a negative way.
A statement that says it all.