A Fighters Mindset

April 1st 2021

By Matt Hill
Categories: Athlete Resources

A Fighters Mindset

Bill Beswick, former head coach to the Commonwealth Games Gold-medal winning England basketball team turned sports psychologists has worked with some of the biggest names in football (managers and players).

In this podcast Bill talks about developing a “fighter mindset” and how to take responsibility for your life as well as in your sport.

WHY do you do what you do and WHAT do you want?

Whatever it is you do in life, from working to taking part in a hobby sport (triathlon), think about “why” you (want) to do it. Some things are essential and simple – you work to pay the bills, eat, and probably to be able to do you hobby.

Once you know your “why” you should write it down and display it so it is easily seen; this is then your reason to continue on your path and should help you focus on doing what it is you want to achieve. It is your internal motivation, personal to you, for you.

The treadmill of life

Today’s fast pace of life, our daily routines feeling like the “treadmill of life”, fuelled by with a need for instant success / gratification, has left us in an effectively a non-thinking state. We are easily distracted from our “why”, being detracted from our path while adding anxiety (in general and ultimately from knowing we are not achieving our why).

The fighters mindset

It has many names, but all refer to the same meaning: Character, Attitude, Mental Toughness, Mental Resilience, or the Fighter Mindset as Bill calls it.

Winning in life should simply mean you have achieved your “why”. And being able to do this relies on the application of processes in day to day life, which will all help to develop your “fighters mindset”.

If you know that you are easily distracted and become anxious, you need to try to resolve the issue quickly! Take action against the negativity there and then, rather than dwelling on it or avoiding / burying it – you may bury the issue for a while, but it will resurface.

Learn your ego’s self-talk, the negative type of self-talk, that dominates by making excuses, blaming others, etc. Learn what and when it gets triggered then lay foundations for combatting it.

Don’t become a victim of negative self-talk as it easily deteriorates; if this is you, again, learn what and when it is triggered, then avoid situations that you know make you feel this way: certain people, work/life situations, mental and physical fatigue, lack of food, etc.

Assessing your reactions

Bill talked about using a traffic light system, that you must learned, to assess yourself:

  • Green – all good, relaxed, flow state etc.
  • Amber – a warning state where you feel that you begin to “tip-over” into the red, eg it may be that you are tired, hungry and often others will see it first; you need to be honest with yourself or ask someone else- especially your partner for signs.
  • Red – is the worst condition where negative self-talk dominates, your behaviour is poor, etc.

So what is a fighter mindset?

Champions – whether medallists or simply those who achieve whatever (major or minor) goals they set out to achieve, are those who know their why and are aware of what is required to achieve it – they know how badly they want it and how much they are willing to suffer to achieve it.

These characteristics, of a good person/athlete, can be developed. But as Bill states, it is recognised that those who have been in a supportive environment in their early development will find it much easier. These characteristics are:

  • Having a good (hard) work ethic; work hard at always doing the basics right despite setbacks, fatigue and yourself (your excuses)
  • Repeatedly doing the right thing no matter what
  • Taking responsibility, being accountable, having a good attitude and doing the right things
  • Always doing your best – this opens your potential for making better / good decisions (not to be confused with always overreaching / training)
  • Being consistent in all the above.

We can make our own choices, and a powerful way to succeed is to choose your support structure –  to be with good people, people who you respect, who are what you aspire to, follow their example and learn from them is important to your own success.

Athletic fighter mindset

Understand your “why” so that you can develop your processes; follow these processes and follow them consistently. If you have a coach, some processes will be a given – you need to commit and buy-in to this by taking the responsibility for doing the training and communicating with your coach – be accountable to yourself and to your coach.

Be aware of your inner voice and learn the signs that will indicate that you need to be paying attention and have a positive reflection of yourself. Remember that you can’t control every situation or other people, but you can control how you respond.

Purely from an athletic performance point of view you also need to acknowledge the importance of rest and recovery and can use reflection to assess whether you are having enough. As we always say, it is better to start a training session and decide whether to complete it once you have really assessed how you feel rather than not starting at all.

Being ‘fresh’ both physically and mentally as well as emotionally helps you focus and be consistent to your processes and will be invaluable come race day.