You might have wondered how some great athletes are capable of rising about their competition, even during moments of great stress. For example, how does Derek Jeter manage to get a hit in the clutch time and time again, whereas Alex Rodriguez has a tendency to fail in the same situations? How come Tom Brady can always put his team in a position to win, but Michael Vick can’t win a playoff game?
When it comes to great winning athletes, there are certain attributes that can’t be seen. For one, these athletes play the expectation game well. They’re never boastful, which gives them an opportunity to shed pressure during high-pressure moments. Since they set the expectations low for themselves – in a public sense – it allows them to play free in those important moments.
Most great winning athletes also secretly think they’re the best at what they do. Even if it’s not true, they train themselves to believe it. Or, they will pick out an attribute that they’re the best at. For example, Jeter might not be the best home run hitter, but he’s the smartest player in the game. This gives him a mental edge over the next player.
If you combine downplaying expectations, believing you’re the best at least one aspect of your sport, and you boost confidence by putting in more work than anyone else, then you can also be a great winning athlete.