The public at large look at sporting champions in absolute awe of their “gifted abilities”, wondering how lucky they are to be so talented. Truth be told, although there is a certain amount of natural skill involved there are many other qualities that separate the champions from the also-rans.

Regardless of the technical formula scientists come up with, certain intangible qualities of brilliance mark the champion in sport and life.

Research of champions have consistently shown definite trends and although no one can be considered perfect, the closer one gets to the following qualities, the more likely the achievement of championship status can be obtained.

  • Most successful sports people have a personal value system, which they strive to adhere to.
  • They have a roadmap to life and a goal, but it’s not the achieving of that goal that is as important as the journey to reach it.
  • Champions realise that the mind is their master computer that controls their body’s actions and the mind-body connection is crucial to reaching the “flow state” where the athlete virtually operates in automatic, functioning in the moment with precision and accuracy.
  • Attention is given to the subconscious and the direct bearing it brings to influencing their performance.

Simply put, “where the mind goes, the body follows”.

  • The ability to visualise executing perfect form and winning normally form part of their make up, which if not naturally acquired, can be taught by a trained professional.
  • They have total commitment to their sport and make sacrifices that would seem unreasonable to many, but then again to any aspiring sportsperson of championship quality, the same sacrifice would be considered absolutely necessary.
  • Champions have the innate ability to have well balanced lives obtaining satisfaction from a variety of sources.

However, they will not allow any distraction to affect their primary objective of reaching their destiny and when its time to train, its time to train!

  • Champions are most definitely not afraid of hard work, going the extra mile because they want to, not because they told to.

An example of this is the team kicker for a rugby side, its just not enough to go to practice twice a week, play a match on Saturday and then try make the national side – it just wont happen that way.

  • Top class champions show tremendous courage, tenacity, perseverance and an incredible amount of self-belief, that enable them to produce that extra bit of class at crucial moments to gain the edge.
  • Champions are generally likeable, respected individuals that are well adjusted, but there are the exceptions to the rule, to which there is nothing worse.

To many the overflowing confidence is construed as arrogance and sometimes it is, hence the champions often have as many fans as they do detractors.

  • An obvious quality is the need to be competitive having the will to tolerate pain and discomfort.
  • Mental strength is an absolute must and in the end it will come down to the strongest mind when physicality and skill are evenly matched.
  • Champions find ways to succeed and they don’t make excuses.

These skills apply not only to being a sportsman/woman, but also to being a father, mother, husband, wife, friend and leader.

Regardless of which area in life we wish to achieve in, we must get to know ourselves, the reason we do certain things, the way we react to success and failure, what our strengths and weaknesses are. Ultimately it comes down to our basic motivations and values in life.

In the pursuit of excellence a champion always strives for perfection in the knowledge that mistakes can and probably will be made, but it is important to make them as a rare occurrence as humanly possible.

Champions are able learn from their mistakes and draw something positive out of their setbacks, spending 5% on the problem and 95% on the solution, never dwelling on things.

Finally, let me leave you with the basic sports equation:

Level of skill + physical preparation + mental preparation = sports performance.



Perseverance is the key to winning. In the pursuit of excellence, winners and losers are often separated by a very fine margin that is determined not only on the talent of the individual or team, but by the amount of perseverance and tenacity that can be mustered during the preparation and competition phase.

In short, we need to win the psychological battle of commitment, focus and determination. We also need to accept the fact that we have an equal chance of succeeding as do our fellow competitors, but it is possible to sway the odds in our favour by attitude and approach.

The priority is in determining what it is that you would like to achieve, then setting a strategy with realistic and steady goals with a view to finding ways of improving your own performance. To be the very best takes sacrifice and commitment.

Identify what it is that you want, who can help you get it and take action !!!

Terry Orlick