Reflection and High Performing Athletes


Posted by Coach Chris Palmquist

I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion. 
- Billie Jean King


High performing athletes share many talents and skills, the most obvious being physical talent, mental drive and the ability to focus on goals. But there are some less obvious skills that play a critical role in separating the best from the rest. A strong sense of self-awareness is one of the most important. Self-awareness helps an athlete bring positive energy and organization to the components of his/her training and racing that will ultimately bring the most athletic success. Without a self-awareness of one's skills, goals and priorities, an athlete may flounder through many years of training and racing without real success.

So what makes a strong sense of self-awareness and how does one develop it?

Who are you as an athlete?

Developing self-awareness requires that an athlete spend time defining his/her self.  Who are you?  What are your goals?  Why are you an athlete?  How does sport rank in your life priority list? To answer these questions, trust your own instincts.  But also seek knowledge and ideas from mentors both in and outside of your sport.  Find the people that you admire and learn from them.

Then, make a daily appointment for reflection

Have you ever gotten to the end of the day, week or season and realized how much you could not remember about your experiences?  Most of us have thoughts spinning around in our brains all day long.  We don't take the time to process, reflect and separate out the important events of the day.

The habit of reflection is the intentional practice of thinking about the important events of each day within the framework of moving forward towards your overall goals.  Top athletes and coaches should intentionally set aside 5 minutes at the end of each day to reflect. 

  • What went well?
  • What did not?
  • How do I feel physically? Emotionally?
  • What is important about tomorrow and how will we accomplish it?
  • Am I working towards my long and short term goals?

Then, write down a couple of sentences in a journal about your reflection.  If you have a coach, share your reflections mutually.

The simple step of making this appointment with yourself each evening and writing down your reflection can make a huge difference in how you stride through your goals as an athlete this year. 

~ Coach Chris (

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