What do Beloit athletes and the Olympic athletes currently competing in Sochi have in common?
Music for one, according to Director of Athletics and Recreation Peggy Carl.
Whether it’s rap, heavy metal, classical or another genre, music is the universal way athletes get into the zone before a performance.
“It helps athletes tune out the noise of the crowds and mentally focus on the task at hand,” said Carl, who served as the Logistics Coordinator for Swimming at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., and as the Field of Play Chair for the 2004 USA Olympic Swimming Team Trials in Long Beach, Calif.
All athletes, whether they are taking the world stage or competing in their college arena, also need confidence and encouragement to recover from a weak performance.
When athletes, particularly Olympic athletes, are only used to achieving, a weak performance or loss can be a foreign concept they don’t know how to process.
“Often it takes a coach, teammate, or sports psychologist to pull them out of what we call a funk,” Carl said.
Practice is also key to gaining confidence, Carl added, because it builds muscle memory.
The extreme degree to which Olympic athletes practice and train, however, is what separates them from other athletes. For example, while the latter may spend an hour a day in the gym, the former is in the gym three hours daily.
Though that intense level of commitment makes it impossible for everyday people to train like Olympic athletes, Carl said there is still much we can learn from them.
“We can learn there’s truth behind ‘never say quit’, and it’s not how you wipe out, but how you get up and carry on,” she said. “And we can learn how determination and sheer will can allow you to do things that are beautiful.”