Raising Resilient Athletes


Process vs. Results

Andrea_henkel_burke_Process vs. Results

When athletes focus solely on the result rather than the process, it can have various implications on their performance and overall development. 

Of course, every athlete wants to succeed when it counts, and the result that counts is the competition. This is just a fact. On the other hand, every athlete also wants to improve and make a process. Going from one competition to the next one definitely helps this process, but it can not do it alone. Most of the process is done in Training, and that leads to results. 

It doesn´t come without consequences when athletes only think about the results - in training or competition. 

Let´s begin talking about process vs. result at a competition.

What happens when an athlete is about to start a race or game or is already in it? No matter how short or long a competition will be, this relates to all of them.

Pressure increases 

When going into a race and only knowing what the end result should be leaves the athlete with a lot of things unknown and unpredictable. Other competitors, conditions, the start position, and much more are not in the athlete's power or control. This can create a sense of pressure and anxiety when athletes become fixated only on achieving a specific result. It´s also not unlikely that those focus elements lead to fear of failure and most likely a negative impact on their performance.

What to do instead:

Learning to focus on the controllable. That´s when every competition becomes a training session for the making process because the next competition may be just around the corner. 

Lack of Present-Moment Focus

Focusing solely on the result can shift an athlete's attention away from the present moment and the action that is literally in its hands. Being preoccupied with the end goal and thinking of it all of the time, rather than staying engaged and focused on the task at hand is a recipe for disappointment. Reduced awareness about a lack of present-moment focus can easily oversee opportunities, i.e., in a ball game. It may also has an impact on the ability to make necessary adjustments during competition.

What to do instead:

Staying in the present and focusing on the process of the competition. In this way, the athlete uses everything that is in their control and is able to react to certain situations.

Let´s now come to the whole picture

Competition is a very important aspect of sports, but when looking at the total time spent with the sport, it is a tiny little part. That also is a reason, why athletes want to know the concept of process. Most of it happens in training.

Training Undervalued

When athletes don´t see the purpose of training and can not value all they are getting out of the sessions, they most likely don´t get the whole package of benefits. It´s a mix of missing education and an athletic mindset. For younger athletes, it might be more the educational end, which coaches, mentors, and other supporters can help with - by pointing out the process young athletes make through consistently joining the practice. In older athletes, it´s shifting more towards a lack of athletic mindset. They know, at least consciously, that training is there to get better. They would need support with experiencing the effect, when they actually thinking and acting in a way to be able to prove what they already know. 

What to do instead:

Athletes probably need support on this end, either in education, with a mindset shift, or both. Understanding the process they could make and how they can make it will have a huge impact. 

Reduced Enjoyment

When athletes solely prioritize the result, they lose sight of the joy and fulfillment that comes from the process of getting to the desired result. Sports are about fun and excitement, if none of it is present, the process is limited. Focus on outcomes makes it feel like a constant pursuit of external validation and opens the door for a lot of potential excuses. This definitely kills the enjoyment and intrinsic motivation.

What to do instead:

Readjust why athletes started with the sport, why they choose to come to practice, and let them experience what is in their control. Sometimes, teammates can be great showcases.

So what´s the difference between focus on process vs. results? 

Focusing on process makes Ambitious Goals realistic! Focusing on the results makes and exciting goal unrealistic! 

On top of it athletes limit their learning opportunities and the changes to boost their self-worth.

The process needs to get at least the value of a result. Both are exciting, but only through process, athletes get consistent results, not the other way around. Why not have process-oriented goals? It will make the whole experience much more fun and way more successful, especially when it comes to achieving long-term success.


Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)

Related Articles:

What is Training actually doing

Consistency a Key to Success

Building the Foundation

Feeling Comfortable at the Start Line


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