23 March 2017
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

How to be lucky – creating your own sporting ‘luck’

September 25, 2012
How to be lucky - creating your own sporting ‘luck’

What does it mean to be lucky in sport? To win? To beat your PB? To avoid injury? To enjoy it? It means different things to different people of course but let’s go for the simple word ‘succeed’ and let you define what success means to you.  

How to be lucky - creating your own sporting ‘luck’You may be familiar with that old saying ‘the more I practice the luckier I get’ and I think most of us get that, so a lot of the tips are based around what you do and think when you are ‘practicing’.

1. ‘I enjoy this’

Cyclist Victoria Pendleton has talked of the ‘lost’ feeling after winning. But what she’s always said is how much she enjoys training. It’s so obvious but it’s true – you’ve got to be sure you like, perhaps love, what you’re doing. If you’re not then try something else because your resolve will constantly be tested.

2. ‘Why am I doing this?’

When interviewing Olympic gold-winning rower Greg Searle, who has also just won bronze at London 2012 at the age of 40, I was interested to hear that his compelling reason to row was not the rowing itself – it was the competition. Your reason may be a very personal one but you will need it.

3. ‘Pain is good’

No matter what type of physical activity you undertake you will recognise that moment we all get when you want to stop. The pain kicks in and the muscles start aching. That’s the moment when the successful see the pain as an opportunity to work out how to get through it – a rehearsal for real competition, not to give up.

4. ‘What’s my purpose today?’

As someone who swims regularly and enjoys it, I still get days when I have to push myself a bit further to get in the pool. On those days I really do need a purpose. On other days just the physical act itself is all I need. On the days where I need a higher purpose I set little targets. If I am doing 100 lengths I might try and swim the second half quicker than the first or to knock 30 seconds off my overall time. Or to swim five extra lengths. Or, I admit it, just to swim a little faster than the person in the lane next to me.

5. ‘I am better than I think I am!’

So, you’ve succeeded. You’ve created your own luck through your own hard work. But if you’re satisfied with where you are you may be missing finding out what you are really capable of. Break through to the next level. Run a mile further than you’ve ever run before. Swim 50 lengths further than you’ve ever swum before. You will surprise yourself.

6. ‘Luck – good and bad – happens’

It’s boring when everything is within your control. Sometimes things will happen that you can’t control that have a bad outcome (injury for example) but equally you will have wonderful opportunities come your way that you did little to make happen. What you must do is keep yourself ‘primed’ for those opportunities. If you’re ready and willing to embrace ‘luck’ you will find it in the most unlikely of places. But the first lesson is to remind yourself that there is a lot you can’t control and that’s just a part of life.

Douglas Miller for Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Douglas Miller is a writer, speaker and trainer. His latest book ‘The Luck Habit: What the Luckiest People Think, Know and Do and How it Can Change Your Life’ has just been published by Pearson Education. www.douglasmillerlearning.com

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