The Infinite Wait for Perfect Conditions

With the Paralympics just days away, there have been multiple stories regarding the living conditions in the Olympic village. News of trash fires and flooded rooms darkened the first impressions of Rio heading into the Olympics. Conditions were so bad that the USA Basketball teams are stayed on a luxury cruise ship. Obviously, conditions are less than ideal for these athletes. Should this affect their play?

Seldom is the case that conditions will be perfect for you during competition. For outdoor events, playing conditions are subject to the weather, with the wind, rain, and even snow becoming a factor. Away teams travel on cramped buses or sit for hours on a long plane ride, while the home team sleeps comfortably in their regular beds the night before. For every athletic event out there, there are just as many things that can go wrong. It is easy to get discouraged under difficult circumstances or blame a poor performance on the conditions. However, there is always something you can do about it. You can always control how you react to it.

John Wooden famously stated, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” You will never be able to control how your sport plays out, but you are always in control of your actions. If it’s pouring rain during your competition, a constructive way to respond is to accept the rain for what it is and determine how you can play your best even though you are soaking wet. While others are complaining about the wet conditions, you can focus on the game and what you need to do to win.

Another common distraction is when things go awry leading up to competition. Similar to the disturbing events leading up to Rio, things can go wrong before you get to the contest site. Your transportation may break down. Heavy traffic might delay your arrival. You, yourself, might be someone who typically misplaces your gear. These scenarios may increase your anxiety or distract you from you pre-performance routine. However, if you can accept the present conditions and make best with what you have, you can maintain a high level of play under difficult circumstances.

Perfect conditions rarely happen in athletics. You cannot control what happens around you. If you wait to act until the situations are perfect, then it is likely you will be waiting forever. However, if you accept the adversity that surrounds you and react accordingly, you will be much better off. Megan Kalmoe, a member of the US Olympic Rowing Team, understands this. In a recent blog post of hers, Megan eloquently stated that she “would row through [expletive] for you, America.” We all know the water conditions are poor, but how does dwelling on that help our athletes succeed? As Megan says, it does not help. The competitors who can focus on their performance, rather than let themselves be distracted by poor conditions, are the ones who will give themselves the best shot of winning medals in Rio.

What you choose to focus on is in your control. If you focus on the adverse conditions and wait until If you decide to focus on your behavior, instead of the adverse conditions that surround you, your chances of a better performance will increase.

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