My best friend/cousin, Meaghan Foley, has been one of my favorite workout partners ever since High School. We played sports together at RHAM, and spent our summers working out preparing for our College Careers (her- soccer, me- basketball.) To this day, she is still one of my favorite people to workout with. Even on the beaches of St Croix (where she lives) we automatically went into the “zone” while doing a circuit workout. While we both are not necessarily training for sports careers, we continue to train hard to this day. With many miles between us, and different goals and lives, one thing has not changed; when we workout, we workout hard! This is all we know, and it is what makes our endorphins dance more than anything else. The way athletics affected us and changed our lives, is I am sure the reason we have both chose to pursue careers that revolve around athletics. As a fitness instructor I am passionate about teaching people the unbelievable positive affects of physical fitness. Meaghan has also attained her personal training certification, and is currently getting her Master’s in Sports Psychology. She speaks at soccer camps, discussing the major role the mind plays in training and competition. She shared this paper she wrote with me, which I found very relevant to my life.


As I get older, and start competing in mostly individual sports, I struggle with what “success” means to me. Please read Meaghan Foley’s thoughts and ask yourself, how do you measure success?


I would define competition as the challenge of striving to succeed. This could pertain to the challenge of striving to succeed against an opponent, towards a personal goal or both. Now the variance comes in the definition of success. Our perceptions of success carry an emotional charge because our perceptions create our reality. If an athlete defines success only extrinsically, meaning competition entails succeeding against an opponent, then they are likely to perceive their success and possibly even self-worth based on winning. Therefore, even if they perform perfectly and still do not win then they will perceive themselves as failing. An extrinsic view of competition leaves a lot of variables to chance because it is impossible to control every element of the outcome. If this is the athletes only perception of success then it can lead to an unhealthy view of competition. (Murphy, S. 2005)


A more healthy view is intrinsically based because the athlete has more control over their success level. By focusing internally and task based, the athlete can create achievable and measurable action steps towards success. This turns the competition inward to succeed against their own personal best. Most athletes use a combination of the two to define competition. Finding a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic success is the best motivator for athletes and the best view of competition. Most athletes do not focus enough intrinsically so it would be beneficial to help them build on this aspect of competition. This often pertains to preparation, skill building and managing stress under pressure. Depending on which the athlete feels is their weakest element, various exercises can be implemented to improve on each of these areas. This process will show the athlete the benefits of working internally to improve their performance and they will see the results in their improved confidence and success.(Murphy, S. 2005)


References: Murphy, S. (2005). The Sport Psych Handbook. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, Inc.


After a lifetime of winning equalling success, I am trying to find balance between the concept of external and internal success. Many times I will not attempt races, especially difficult ones, if I know I will not do well. I am beginning to realize that this is an immature way to live my life, and I need to start signing up for races with PERSONAL goals, not overall placement goals. I will use others as a motivator to get better, but will try to understand it is not the only definition of success.



About the author

Matt Mund is the owner and founder of Mission Fitness. He is dedicated to helping his clients of all fitness levels achieve their personal goals

comments powered by Disqus