Your want-to sweet spot

It’s getting so close. You’ve done so much work, been through so much, dreamt for so long. Your Olympic goal is just around the corner and you just want it so badly. But be aware of wanting success so much that you cross over to feeling like you have to be successful. Feeling like you have to achieve is a very difficult place to perform from.

Right about now – less than 60 days until it all begins – is sometimes a difficult time to remember that you love what you do and that it’s mostly fun. It’s been an unusually long year with higher training volume and intensity coupled with all the consequences of selection and qualification. With summer racing and competitions in full swing – we become fully aware that there are very few second chances left. Add to that the almost constant hum of expectations from our family, the media and sponsors that are ever present, whether we are focusing on them or not. But remember, nobody wants or expects more from you than you – this is your ride! You’ve earned it and more importantly – you are ready for it.

In a recent email exchange with sport psych Cal Botterill, he spoke to me about a “want-to sweet spot”. I LOVED this term! We’ve all felt it– that sweet spot where our sense of self-belief, confidence and competitive fire are perfectly balanced and great performances seem to just flow naturally from us. He said, “…there (is) Sport Psychology literature that point(s) out the advantages of “approach(ing) success” (feels like want to) vs “avoid(ing) failure” (feels like have to).”

For me to tell you “don’t want it too much” is so simple but for you to do that can be surprisingly complex. Especially when, right now, there is nothing you want more than to achieve your success.  Believe me – I totally understand – I have been where you are. But remember, that no matter what’s on the line- you want to achieve far more than you have to achieve.

This whole journey has only been possible because of your hunger and passion for competition and your sport. You really love what you do and you couldn’t have made it this far otherwise. Once upon a time you chose your sport and it made your heart sing: it was play. When I talk to athletes who have retired from elite professional or Olympic competition, uniformly they say that the thing that they miss most is the lifestyle and the incredible rush that comes with being really tested; by them self and by others. For all the challenges that sport and competition bring, they bring you more joy than anything else.

Want it. Want it with all your heart. It may be the hardest thing to do – but be aware of your approach to success. Try to remember that you want to have it more than you have to have it.  Play.


Between now and the 2012 Olympic Games I will be sending out a monthly email. Think of it as a talking point; you may agree with me, maybe disagree… It may serve as a heads up or reminder to some ups and downs that are a natural point of believing that you can more than just go, more than just compete, but compete at your very BEST at the Olympics. My goal will never be to add to your stress, but to help you wear it well.

Marnie McBean

Three time Olympic Champion – Rowing

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