Washington: We often see some people running at a good pace on the path to greatness while others fall back behind. A recent study suggests that what really distinguishes champions is how they face and overcome obstacles on their path.
Lead author Dave Collins said that they have found that there are universal psychological characteristics amongst those who are aspiring to get to the top.
He added that they have a good idea of what makes people excellent and how they can help them reach peak performance.
By interviewing athletes from varied sports such as soccer, rowing, skiing and combat sports, Collins and his collaborators sought to find distinguishing characteristics between the best of the best, the good, and those that didn't quite make the cut.
The results showed that elite performers expressed an internal drive and commitment to their sports that their almost great colleagues lacked. The elite approached training with a never satisfied attitude, whereas almosts might avoid challenging training exercises.
Following an injury or a failure to perform, high performers were determined to get back to their sports, stronger than ever. Low achievers, on the other hand, often expressed surprise at their failures, telling how they lost enthusiasm after such incidents.
Despite these differences in the athletes' attitudes, there was surprisingly little variation in the nature or number of the challenges themselves. All had roughly comparable traumatic incidences during their careers. More than the challenges themselves, the differences came down to how the athletes reacted to these obstacles and the champions' positive, learn from it attitudes.
Collins said that from their research, they are assembling a set of rules to guide what a coach should be doing and what skills an athlete should end up with.
The research suggests that challenge is not sufficient in itself. An aspiring athlete's attitude towards challenge is what most distinguishes the champions from the rest.
The research appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.