Asian Games 2018: The Mind of a Winner

The 4 Attributes To Success
Mayank Pande

524 athletes (277 men and 247 women) have been selected across 36 sports disciplines to represent India at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta.

With 38 days to go, India's athletes now enter the final stage of preparation. Having honed their technical skill and sports craft through hours of practice and different levels of competition, India's athletes should be well prepared for the impending challenges ahead. After all, the Asian Games is the second largest multi-discipline sports platform in the world.


It has taken India many decades to move beyond cricket. Hereon, other sports will continue to gain ground and the signs are there for all to see:

  1. GIRL POWER - The recent cover of Femina India featured India's Golden Girls.
  2. BANKABLE STARS BEYOND CRICKET - PV Sindhu is second only to Virat Kohli in brand endorsements.
  3. NEW CONSUMPTION CHANNELS - Online video/ digital consumption in India grew 5X in 2017-18.
  4. INDIA IS WATCHING OTHER SPORTS - TV viewership for CWG2018 was higher than the India - Australia cricket series.
  5. INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS - Li-Ning's two-year multi crore deal with the India Olympic Association and the Indian Badminton Association signed a three year, INR 75 Crore deal with Yonex.


India's journey towards emerging as a sporting nation has begun. New stars are emerging across sports, viewership is growing across platforms and corporates are ready to commit more funds to sports. At the same time, the sports ministry is strengthening policy & institutional support while the national sports federations are working harder to develop the grassroots connect.

Simultaneously, India's national athletes bear immense responsibility to deliver results and medals. No longer can winning bilateral series or limited international events be used to justify athlete potential, if this potential does not translate into results on the big stage.

Athletes have to be mindful that consistency in performance/results is extremely important. 'One Performance Wonders' don't justify the level of investment in the long term. One must remember that the Asian Games 2018 are meant to be a preparatory ground as India look towards the Olympic Games in 2020.

As they say, "Winning requires talent but to repeat it takes character".


An athlete’s state of mind is perhaps the single greatest factor that affects performance. Author WT Gallway summed it up as follows:

Performance = Potential - Interference

Performance (Medals/ Results) = Potential (combination of innate talent, training hours, playing hours, coaching) Minus Interference (all the things that interfere with that potential, namely a poor state of mind)

As India embarks on the Asian Games campaign, winning big medals is key. And in order to win, Indian athletes must focus on Four Key Attributes to Success. These are attributes that help prepare the state of mind of an athlete.

#1. SELF BELIEF - is that positive mental attitude that gives an athlete the inherent self-confidence that motivates him/her to deliver exceptional results. When the self-belief is high, the mind lacks self-doubt, is reassured and relaxed. The athlete's timing is perfect, the breathing is tempered, the footwork/movement is smooth, the energy is high and the athlete always reaches the ball a split second early. When self-belief is high, impossible is nothing.

Over the next 38 days, believe in the training preparation and hard work already put in, don't compare yourself to others, focus on the controllables, log daily victories, think only positively, don't try and learn new tricks, learn to visualize your game plan and forgive your mistakes. Review past performances in order to build self-awareness about actions and reactions in specific situations to understand strengths and weaknesses and build alternative coping methods.

#2 SINGULAR FOCUS - Athletes typically crave high physical and mental stimulation but focus brilliantly on a set of mundane & repetitive tasks that help them achieve their objectives. They find a way to sustain their motivation and energy and don't get distracted. This is singular focus.

Over the next 38 days, mentally rehearse your 'in-game' actions and visualize your game outcomes. Imagine what it feels like to perform in front of a stadium full of people, think about what you feel when you're at the starting line waiting to hear the pop of the starter gun, remember the feel the javelin in your hand and imagine the point in the race where the baton has to be handed over. And always listen to your inner coach. What the athlete replays in his mind time and again, is a powerful reflection of future behavior.

#3. NATIONAL PRIDE - can be a very powerful motivator. While an athlete plays and performs for personal ambition and team goals, the results he/she delivers satisfy the expectations of an entire nation. Patriotism has a way of instilling a sense of national purpose beyond personal ambition. After all the athlete is an ambassador representing 1.3 billion Indians.

Over the next 38 days, the athlete needs to remember what it means to be selected to represent India at the Asian Games, remember what it means to have that national emblem on the chest, remember what it means to hear India's national anthem playing in front of millions of people. Most importantly, the athlete needs to remember the faces of people who have contributed to his/her success and the pride and happiness they would feel in the athlete's success.

#4. AMBITION - describes an athlete's purpose, the reason to strive towards being the best and deliver success. Ambition is a burning desire to achieve a goal. Without hard work, ambition means nothing. Ambition instills the drive, grit and mental fortitude to train and play hard. The goals an athlete chases belong to the athlete and it is his/ her responsibility to deliver these goals and ambitions. Other can only hold them accountable for their performance.

An athlete's performance is his voice that speaks loud and clear and resonates in every part of the globe. So make the voice count. It's your duty to the nation.

Please remember that this is also the quest of a nation, to be recognized, along with the athlete, as an emerging sporting nation on the global map. And most importantly, remember the joy of winning.

India will be rooting for you. And we promise to celebrate your success like never before.

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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