Olympic Performance Process

It's everywhere….it's everywhere.

The athletes are talking about it. The coaches are talking about it. Even the press has caught on.

And actors have known it forever.

What are we talking about? It's the Performance Process!

With the Olympics underway and commentators analyzing the performances, times and techniques of the world's elite athletes it is evident there has been an extreme and productive turn around in the understanding of the "how's" and "why's" of successful performance.

It now seems to be generally accepted that an athlete enters competition to do their best. If they fail to achieve victory or their individual goal then it is the performance process that is examined with the hope of gaining knowledge rather than simply blaming the athletes (as they have in the past) for not having the "will to win".

And what do we hear confirmed over and over again…..

"Look at him," they shout as Ian Thorpe completes his first heat in the Olympic Pool.
"He's so relaxed."
"He's just cruising."
"And it's an Olympic Record. It's that easy"
"Just perfect."

Simon Fairweather wins gold for the first time for Australia in archery.

Constantly he refocused his attention - blocking out expectation and disappointment - concentrating on the process of aiming and releasing the arrow with the best possible execution of the process. Pausing….relaxing….lowering his centre of gravity.

Young athletes need to gain experience in coping with the crowd and the pressures of Olympic participation.

It is now generally accepted that inexperience is a factor, which in itself can generate stress. Hand in hand with this acknowledgement is the acceptance that stress can disrupt a performance. "They have done very well, but now they know what the Olympics are all about - who knows what they will achieve next time."

"It's my job," job says Herb Elliott (mentor of the Australian Team and ex-Olympic competitor), "to not let the athletes become distracted by all the peripheral excitement and assist them to stay focused on their own event."

In a one hundred metre free-style swim a little bit of tension creeping into the stroke can reduce a time by one or two one hundredths of a second. This can be the difference between winning and losing or first and third, say the commentators. Tension is a destroyer of good performance - and any actor would have told them that.

Tiredness & Technique
In the women's triathlon two runners struggle shoulder to shoulder towards the finishing line. "Watch those elbows" say the commentators. "They need to keep them close to their body and maintain the rhythm. The 'elbows' are often the first sign that their process is becoming ragged. Of course, they are now enormously tired. The winner will be the athlete who can hold it all together."

Now they all know it.

Wanting to do well is inevitably the source of an athlete's ambition but it is not the secret of success. Trying hard may even be a negative force. It is executing the process well, which delivers results. It's committing to the 'doing' that wins races. It's maintaining an uninterrupted process, which makes one athlete superior to another.

Are actors surprised?

Of course not. 'Cos that's the way of it.

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