Your Inner Athlete: Thinking Like A Champion

Your Inner Athlete: Thinking Like A Champion

The event wears its name like glove: “WOW.” 

The acronym is a perfect fit for Becca Tudor’s awesome Weekend of Wellness, relatively new festival (the 3rd annual gathering took place in early June) that celebrates overall fitness, including ways grow a spine, man up –  yoga, kettle bell, Pilates, cycling, kids’ classes – and also get educated about health trends in general through lectures by doctors, nutritionists, and renowned experts in the field of sports psychology. 

Experts such as Dr. Haley Perlus, a stand-out on a long list of superstar women featured at Telluride WOW, already a no-miss event if you are on a path towards personal transformation.


Haley holds a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology, an M.S. in Sport Pedagogy (coaching behavior), numerous fitness and coaching certifications. The former elite Alpine ski racer is an expert inspiring, motivating and empowering athletes and teams of all types to achieve peak results.

An adjunct professor at the UCCS, a seminar leader at top sport and fitness conferences, a consultant to National Team and Division I scholarship athletes, an appointed Industry Leader by, and four-time author, Haley comes to Telluride with one goal in mind: To help you go all the way!

I attended Haley’s lecture about the psychology behind good nutrition and overall health. The holistic contents turned out to be a back door to ways to live a healthy life in general.

We were all left wanting more from this buff, blonde brainiac, so Telluride Inside… and Out invited Haley to blog on our site.

And lucky for us all, Haley agreed. Her column, “Your Inner Athlete” begins today. Out of the gate, Haley writes about “How to Think Like a Champion.”

For more about Haley, go here.

And scroll down to bottom of the story for a podcast featuring Dr. Haley Perlus.

Why is it that athletes with the same physical strength and technical ability achieve different levels of performance? When all else is equal, champions have a unique mindset that allows them to endure the intense conditions, cope with the enormous pressure, and become the best in the world at their sport. Were they born mentally tough or is it a skill that can be enhanced just like anything else?

Sport psychology is coined the science of success because it studies what top athletes do to perform at their peak. Here are three mental toughness strategies that give athletes the best shot at the gold.

1. Want success more than you fear anything else

What could possibly be scary about a sport environment? Speed, distance, terrain, and injuries are all part of the game. Even so, top competitors learn to prioritize their fears. The love they have for their sport, and their deep desire to perform their best, takes precedence over any fear. Champion athletes develop the mental discipline to mute their fears and focus all of their energy on executing their competition plan.

2. Choose offensive play

Top athletes answer two questions when they’re preparing for competition:

• With my strengths, where can I gain a competitive advantage?

• How will I overcome the challenges?

These questions create a strategic plan that takes into account the external environment, but is based on the athlete’s current ability. This sets up the athletes for offensive play (i.e. “here I come”) compared to reactive play  (i.e. “here it comes”). When champion athletes believe they are in control, it’s like consuming a mental toughness cocktail full of motivation, confidence, and focus that is optimal for peak performance.

3. Embrace true competition

For both individual and team sports, there is a level of competitive cooperation (aka coopetition). The best athletes understand the value of competing with well-matched athletes. They view their opponents as partners, instead of enemies, working together to bring out each other’s best efforts. When you watch champion athletes interact and listen to them talk, they appreciate and respect each other. That is the essence of true competition and creates the greatest opportunity for high performance.

To learn more about Dr. Haley Perlus, click the “play” button and eavesdrop on our chat from Telluride WOW 2015.

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