Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings: Use the Strategies of Champions to Enhance Your Performance

Elite sportspeople think and feel in specific ways to achieve outstanding physical performances. Learn how to use the same champion thoughts and feelings to change negative thinking, non-constructive feelings, and limiting behaviours and enhance your performance – as a coach and as an athlete.

Your performance is profoundly influenced by your thinking – by the things you imagine and say to yourself. Thoughts are powerful – thoughts make things happen. Thoughts are the building blocks from which you create your beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and every aspect of your performance in your sport, or at work. Every thought you have affects you in some way – either empowering you, or limiting you. There are no ‘neutral’ thoughts.

Yet few people recognise the enormous power of their moment to moment thinking, and fewer still actually use this awareness in their daily life.

Every performance starts in your mind. The best performances occur when you take control of your performance by taking control of your thinking. All control begins by taking control of the thoughts you think. Champions give themselves a mental edge by standing guard at the door of their mind – by taking control of their thinking, and by deliberately choosing to focus on the positive.

Everyone knows they’re supposed to ‘be positive’ – to think positively, and to discourage negativity. Yet for many people thoughts just seem to ‘happen’ before they know about it! People tell me all the time, “I can’t help it. I just automatically do it!”

At which point I tell them that’s a cop out, and a load of rubbish. Thoughts don’t ‘just happen’ to you – you think them! There can be no escaping the fact that you choose your thoughts – how else could they get there?

Yet even knowing this, some people still indulge in negative thinking, and problem focus – rather than looking for solutions and always expecting the best for themselves.

Part of the problem is, of course, that negative thinking has become a habit – not only for individuals, but for the society in general. Like any habit, it takes effort and willingness to change.

So the issue for many people is to be personally convinced of the detriment of negative thinking on their performance and in their lives, and of the enormous advantages that accrue to those who continually focus on positive, possibility thoughts.

However, feelings are just as important to success. Your performance at work; in your relationships; in education; in sport; in fact, in every area of your life, is profoundly influenced by your feelings, isn’t it? How you feel affects how well you perform. Your emotional states influence your thinking, your behaviour, your tone of voice, your posture, and even your health.

But, like thoughts, feelings don’t ‘just happen’ to you – feelings are choices. Champions recognise this and choose their feelings. Feelings that empower them, and allow them to fully utilise their physical prowess and mental skills.

Champions have learned how to choose the states they live in.

How many good feelings do you have? And how much time in a day do you spend feeling good? Likewise, how many bad feelings can you identify ….. and how much time do you spend in a day feeling bad? Think about it for a minute.

If you’re like a lot of people, you will probably only be able to think of a few good feelings – but lots of bad ones! For instance, a short list of bad feelings might run like this:

Worried; Depressed; Sad; Frustrated; Unconfident; Uptight; Angry; Tired; Tense; Bad; Embarrassed; Pressured; Jealous; Anxious; Unmotivated; Lonely; Weak; Victimised; Sorry-for-self; Nervous; Powerless; Self righteous; Apathetic; Trapped; Unloved; Pitiful; Heavy; Procrastinating; Lousy; Vindictive; Down; Put-upon; Rushed; Sick; Tentative; Bashful; Grumpy; Hesitant; Confused; Stressed; Uncertain; Uncreative; Pensive; Lost; Betrayed; Itchy; Spaced-out; In Crisis; Directionless; Stuck; Impatient; Hurt; Unprepared; Clumsy; Bored; Sullen; Slow; Fragile; Un-coordinated; Guilty; Greedy; Anguished; Fearful; Selfish; Regretful; Grieving; Isolated; Withdrawn; and Sleepy …. to name just a few!

I think that many people spend more time in the day feeling either bad, or neutral, than they do actively feeling good feelings!

What do champions feel? How do they use their emotional states to generate excellence in themselves? What champion feelings do they choose? I’ve listed some below that I’ve identified in peak performers. Perhaps you can think of others. Why not choose, right now, to experience one of the following champion feelings :

  • Joy – a feeling of intense happiness
  • Enthusiasm – a feeling of being fully alive and energised
  • Purpose – a feeling of certainty and direction in your life
  • Determination – a feeling of being fully committed to a task or goal
  • Courage – a feeling of strength in the face of adversity or risk
  • Focus – a feeling of pinpoint concentration
  • Love – a feeling of caring, and giving of yourself
  • Adventure – a feeling of excitement and challenge
  • Momentum – a feeling of moving to a destination
  • Belonging – a feeling of connection to others
  • Timing – a feeling of being in perfect sync with outside forces

Every instant, you’re creating or manufacturing some kind of feeling – whether it be a negative feeling like indifference, anger, sullenness, apathy or unconfidence; or a positive feeling like joy, confidence, enthusiasm, excitement, conviction, or some of the others I’ve listed above.

The trouble is, that many people simply don’t recognise, or label, their feeling states. As a consequence, their behaviour is being directed unconsciously – by feelings they are not even aware of! Because your behaviour is profoundly affected by your feelings, if you don’t really know or are aware of what you’re feeling – how can you be in charge of your behaviour, or your performances? In order to be in charge of your personal performance, you want to be aware of your feeling states, and maintain that awareness from moment to moment.

Take a moment, right now, and recognise what you’re feeling – right now, right this instant! What are you feeling, right now, as you read this article? Don’t dismiss the question, or dodge the answer by saying “I’m feeling OK” or “all right”, or “nothing”, or “I don’t know”. Find out! Get in touch with yourself, with your feelings, and describe what you’re currently experiencing. Put a label on your feelings.

It’s important to label your feelings. If you don’t put labels on them you’ll find them difficult to change if they’re negative, and you also won’t understand what is directing your behaviours! Once you’ve identified a feeling or emotional state, then you can go about changing it if it’s disempowering or counter-productive. In addition, if it’s a positive and useful feeling or emotional state, then you can actively enhance and amplify it and make it even more effective and powerful in your life.

I think it’s so important to have a vocabulary of champion feelings – because if you can’t conceptualise or put a name to a feeling, how can you ever experience it? If you don’t identify a feeling, then you won’t ever feel it – or understand what it is that you’re feeling, and how to use it. If a feeling is not in your language, then you won’t make use of it in your life.

Why impoverish yourself by limiting your range of positive emotions to just a few? Practice experiencing champion feelings, and use them in your life.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed “Sportsmind – An Athlete’s Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training” and “Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings”; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph’s College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email :
website :



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