The Mindset of Champions
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck writes about how the “growth mindset” applies to sports:
“Many young athletes who have a great deal of early ability can coast along for some time, outshining their peers. They may even come to equate athletic ability with the ability to outperform others without engaging in much practice or training. At some point, however, natural ability may not be enough, and others may begin to pass them by. Whether they can now learn to put in that needed effort is critical to their future success. Many do not.
In contrast, people in the growth mindset understand that effort is the way that ability is brought to life and allowed to reach fruition. Far from indicating a lack of talent, they believe that even geniuses need great effort to fulfill their promise. People with a growth mindset not only believe in the power of effort, they hold effort as a value . . . My student, Richard Cox, found that athletes who believe that athletic success was due more to practice and hard work and less to natural ability had more success that next season.
He also found that athletes who thought that their coaches believed in practice and hard work more than natural ability had more success. In fact, we are finding more and more that people absorb the mindset that is prevalent in their organization. This means that coaches must themselves adopt a growth mindset and send messages to their athletes that they believe in improvement and that they value the practices that lead to it”: bit.ly/LcDAo7.
Good advice not only for coaches but for teachers, employers and parents: promote an ethic of growth and change and improvement. Dweck has a line about this that I love: “Becoming is better than being.”