Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of competing against, befriending, and coaching many different caliber athletes through wrestling and as a strength and conditioning coach(last 2.5 years). Over this time I realized that with each individual having their own mental approach, it always seemed to come down to 3 different mindsets; the competitor, the switcher, and the warrior.
(Keep in mind all the percentages I use are from personal interactions and mostly consist of wrestling athletes and are of my own opinion)
The natural athlete and contender. They tend to have that constant drive to be the best at what ever they are doing both inside and outside of their sport. This makes up about 60% of the athletes I’ve met/worked with and is often the most common mindset.
Those who seem docile and relaxed until they step into their respective arena. From there they flip the “switch “(see what I did there) and become a whole different person. These are usually the athletes that at first glance, you don’t understand how/why they are doing their respective sport until you see them play. To flip that mental “switch” takes a considerable amount of control since this is pretty much a voluntary flight or fight response. This makes up about 30% of athletes I’ve met/worked with and is most commonly found in power lifters or combative sports.
A hard one to explain without sounding a little crazy. Below is a video of Tim Kennedy; seasoned MMA fighter, active duty soldier, a sponsored athlete of Onnit + Ranger-up, and just a complete savage (If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan.). He has not only taken something I have not been able to fully explain for 10 years and did it in under 2 minutes but also has done it without sounding like a complete psychopath.
The competitor: Only wants to be the best and will not be satisfied by anything less than victory.
The switcher: Has a passion for the sport but is either nervous or scared of competition/losing, which in turn triggers the response of the flip when it comes time to compete.
The warrior: Only cares for a worthy opponent. They are not concerned with the outcome, only if it was against someone of equal talent or caliber. They just want a battle.
From a glance, all of these mindsets can be interchanged and even confused when just observing the athlete from practice and competition. It is not until you talk and get to know them, do these mindsets really stand out. Although, just like body types(endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph) and muscle fibers(fast twitch and slow twitch), you will get some athletes that will have a mix of these.
*OnnitLabs. “Tim Kennedy: The Most Challenging Of All Resistance Comes From Within.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.