The 1 Book You Need To Read To Be A Better Competitor

posted on: August 11, 2013
author: Brian Lomax


Whenever I talk to people about mental toughness, I make sure that I explain the distinction between an athlete and a competitor because the difference is huge when it comes to being successful in sports and life.  Those who are solely athletes have great physical skills.  They’re fast, strong and physically gifted in their sport.  Tune into any sporting event on television and you’ll see them everywhere.  Attend a local high school game and you’ll see them there too.  But if you’re just an athlete, you’re missing something.  You’re missing the secret ingredient.

Competitors are athletes too, but they’ve learned the secrets of competitive success.  They have mastered what we call Competitive Skills.  I know that sounds a bit vague, but if you want to get started on learning what these skills are, then you have to read The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan.  In this book, the author tells you the tale of how he traveled the world to interview the best of the best in various fighting disciplines (wrestling, MMA, Brazilian jiujitsu, Thai fighting, boxing, etc.) to find out what their mental approach was and what they believed about success in competition.  In the process, Sheridan has unlocked the secrets to being successful in almost any endeavor.  Some highlights from the people he interviewed:

  1. They LOVE their training.
  2. They LOVE learning and getting better.
  3. Respect for their team and their opponents is critical.
  4. To be truly great, you must be humble and open minded.
  5. Your 2 biggest enemies are Fear and Anger.  You do NOT perform better angry.  Be calm while competing.
  6. There’s a difference between anger and intensity – you must learn this.
  7. You must always believe in your abilities and that you can win.
  8. Know your identity (how you use your strengths) so you can fight your fight.
  9. They understand the scoring structure of their sport better than the rest.
  10. The pinnacle of competition is breaking your opponent mentally.

Are you starting to get the picture?  When I read this book several years ago, it made a huge difference to me as a competitive tennis player especially with respect to intensity.  It gave me a peek into what intensity in competition really is and I figured out a way to apply it to tennis.  While tennis isn’t a physical fight, it is a 1 on 1 sport and you are in essence engaged in a fight.  Depending on what sport you play, this analogy may not be applicable, but for most of you this will apply.  Who is your opponent?  Engage them with respect and intensity, and never forget that this is a fight.

For more on getting started with developing your competitive skills, email me at and follow us at @PerformanceXtra on Twitter.

photo credit: andriux-uk events via photopin  cc

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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

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