Losing The Momentum Before The Olympic Games
"For me just being here is a dream come true", "No matter what result I achieve, as far as I am concerned I already won just by being here"...
Similar statements such as these are very common among athletes just before a big competition or even the Olympics. The fear of not meeting the expectation of the team's goal, the coach’s or the athlete’s him/her-self is in many cases the basis for these statements.
Unfortunately, though this is not the only reason for which we hear these statements at these critical times. For some athletes it is a true statement that we must identify at a much earlier stage for the sake of the team and the entire system behind them.
Sport is becoming more and more popular as a career and as a source of income. Having a professional career in sports has become much more attainable and feasible then it was only 30 years ago.
Many athletes whom I have met in recent years don't believe they are that good and deserve to become the next stars in their sports. They know they are good and settle with it. In many cases they are also only familiar with the sport and its common practicing methods in their own country and settle for having a vague dream of maybe one day somehow reaching a distinguished & respectable club/team abroad.
For them participating in a national event for their country for example is The highest achievement they believed they would ever reach. They have a sense of accomplishment from the moment this milestone is achieved, even before the first day of the championship/Olympic event.
As a coach finding out what your players/athletes want to achieve in the coming few years is critical. Don't settle with just having the best performers according to statistic and performance captured in their videos. You the coach must understand that the level of inner energy will never increase at critical moments where basic hunger doesn't exist, and the BIG personal milestone was already accomplished.
In the case of fear sabotaging the energy and with it the entire momentum, there are extremely effective ways to train and assist the player/athlete, even in a relatively short period just before the important event.