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The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive

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Even amongst the most elite performers, certain athletes stand out as a cut above the rest, able to outperform in clutch, game-deciding moments. These athletes prove that raw athletic ability doesn’t necessarily translate to a superior on-field experience—it’s the mental game that matters most.Sports participation—from the recreational to the collegiate Division I level—is at an all-time high. While the caliber of their game may differ, athletes at every level have one thing in common: they want to excel. In The Champion’s Mind, sports psychologist Jim Afremow, PhD, LPC, now offers the same advice he uses with Olympians, Heisman Trophy winners, and professional athletes, including:• Tips and techniques based on high-performance psychology research, such as how to get in a "zone," thrive on a team, and stay humble• How to progress within a sport and sustain excellence long-term• Customizable pre-performance routines to hit full power when the gun goes off or the puck is droppedThe Champion’s Mind distills actionable advice into clear and concise steps for athletes looking to find confidence, concentration, and mental preparedness—the mental edge that sets champions apart.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 14, 2014

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Jim Afremow

10 books37 followers

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5 stars
1,018 (35%)
4 stars
994 (34%)
3 stars
653 (22%)
2 stars
166 (5%)
1 star
69 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 217 reviews
Profile Image for Anthony.
780 reviews56 followers
April 5, 2019
I decided to take up running last year and more recently I've been going to the gym. I'm trying to get more fit and in better shape before I get older and it becomes harder. I also love running. It's probably my second favourite past time after reading. This is a book I kept seeing athletes and people into training and running recommend. I thought I'd check it out since it's combining 2 things that I enjoy.

It's a fantastic read about preparing and training yourself mentally so physically you can perform better. There's many anecdotes from professional and Olympic athletes who talk about their experience with their head game and sport.

Since I was mainly reading this as a runner, some of the analogies didn't really work for me, and the stuff about training in a team and listening to your coach is stuff I can't wholly apply to my running.

But there's plenty here about keeping focus mentally and dealing with injuries and also some stuff on meditation which I want to try.

While this reading this book is not going to directly lead to me running faster, the advice that's in here which I can use long term will (hopefully) improve my running, gym training and maybe even my life (not to get too deep at the end but if you read it, you'll get what I mean)
Profile Image for Justin.
626 reviews27 followers
January 23, 2014
I won this book through a Goodreads first reads giveaway.

The Champion's Mind is a great resource for anyone not just athletes for improving and developing mental skills in any domain of performance. Dr. Afremow provides several practical mental skills proven to be effective based off psychological research. He also provides famous studies to learn from as well as an assortment of Zen and Taoist stories that emphasize the effectiveness of mindfulness. Also, a chapter comprised of Olympian's anecdotes are included. There's a bunch of great quotes from various athletes, coaches, and thinkers at the start of each section. The book and the content are simple and clear to understand. As mentioned by the author, and for learning purposes, read a chapter a day to really give the content time to think about. I found this book very motivating and enjoyable. For anyone, knowledge about sport and performance psychology can provide mental skills for life.

"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or demons, heaven or hell." -Buddha
Profile Image for Leonidas.
183 reviews34 followers
July 20, 2017
Full Review: The Champions Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive Review

While 'The Mindful Athlete' focused more on combining meditation with sports psychology, 'The Champions Mind' combines sports psychology, motivational stories from world-class athletes, and routines for becoming top-level in your game.

Top level athletes typically require a mentor who has excelled in their game previously. A mentor will cut your learning time, and inspire you to push a few steps further than before. Learning motivational quotes is a sure-fire way of inspiring yourself, and those around you. Placing motivational posters or cues around yourself will subconsciously inspire you, every single day. Even setting your desktop background, or phone background to a success quote will get you to the next level.

If you can see greatness in someone else, it's normally a reflection of the greatness within yourself as well.

By increasing your self-awareness and mental discipline, you can train yourself to enter the present. The present is the present, and does not look into the past or the future. By staying in the present, you maintain 'mental toughness' by remaining positive and proactive, even in the worst circumstances.
This can be accomplished through practiced breathing and meditation. Centering on your breathing, and disabling all distractions whenever possible.

Engaging in the proper body language - which includes expansive, open postures - can elevate testosterone, cortisol, feelings of power, and tolerance for risk as well. Even telling yourself power phrases like "I think, feel, and perform as a champion" or "I bring it every day", can give you a strong motivational push!

A day should never go by without accomplishing something in your life, whether it's health, wealth, relationships, or happiness.

"It is better to conquer yourself, than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." - Buddha

I enjoyed this book. It's a really deep primer into both sports psychology and self-development that everyone should read. Regardless if you are in sports, business, or just engaged in every day life.

5/5 stars

Story of the Day

A young by earnest Zen student approached his teacher and asked the Zen master, "If I work hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find the Zen?" The master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very very hard and really apply myself to learn fast - how long then?" The master replied, "Well, twenty years." "But if I really, really work at it. How long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the master. "But I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" The master answered, "When you have one eye on the goal, you have only one eye on the path."
March 3, 2014
I started reading The Champion's Mind and I couldn't put it down. I have always focused on the physical side of my game but have become fully aware now how important the mental side is too. I would recommend Dr. Afremow's book for anyone serious about understanding the psychology of excellence and HOW to actually go about mastering the mental skills and strategies. I wore out my highlighter marking favorite quotes and passages >>> "Think Gold and never settle for Silver". Definitely worth your time and investment.

Profile Image for Christopher Barry.
161 reviews7 followers
November 20, 2015
One long, unreadable cliche after another.

As an athlete and a coach, there was nothing new or valuable about this book. I knew most of these stories and techniques already. The tone of the writing was almost condescending at points. What didn't feel condescending was just boring.

I gave up reading it and scanned large sections of it to see if there were any stories I could bookmark to potentially review to add to my bag of coaching tricks. Nope. Didn't find any.

Profile Image for Courtney.
1,321 reviews
July 11, 2014
So helpful for the mental game. I read this as recommended, only one chapter a day, so that I could really reflect on and apply the lessons. Some of it I already knew, and some of it is logical, but it's always good to be reminded of how to think to be your best.
Profile Image for Tereza Vítková.
68 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2021
psáno stylem motivační knížky, která postrádá jakoukoliv hloubku
většina konceptů je jasná každému, Afremow se ohání statistikami ze sportu, které ale nevysvětlují téměř žádný psychický jev
overall nedoporučuju, zatím se mi osvědčilo, že je lepší číst biografie sportovců než "inspirativní" knihy jejich koučů

zajímavá technika pro zvládání sport-related stresu:

,,I always read Bible and prayed to put sport performance in perspective. This is how I not only relieved sports-performance pressure but also how I fully wanted to remember that my race was not the center of the universe. Between every pistol shot at the Beijing Olympics, when there was approximately 30 secs before the command to load for the next shot, I prayed Ephesians 6:10-18."
Profile Image for John.
1 review
December 5, 2014
Not only about the Mental Game or Sports Psychology, but one of the best books I've read in personal development. From the start it dives right into applicable skills, scenarios, affirmations, and awesome quotes. This book is not only a book on Championship thinking for Athletes but also for business professionals, leaders, and daily life.

Dr Afremow looks at every challenge as an opportunity for growth no matter the circumstance and staying present to achieve success on and off the field. I began applying some of the skills immediately as I was going through the book. Something simple as listening to a certain type music to get into the rhythm and flow of an activity can determine how well we focus especially during a difficult period of a day i.e. mid afternoon for me. And that rhythm and flow can be applied to our sports practice or performance. Even the pre-game prep is something many of us overlook in the importance of creating an environment that'll boost our performance rather than create resistance and stress.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is "The goal for any Athlete is to be Master of the injury rather than letting the injury master the Athlete. Bring your champion's mindset to the training room and make rehab your new sport until you get your game back, and you will get that game back." Reminds me of what I did during my recovery after spine surgery. If it wasn't for my mental game and making rehab my sport and part of my daily fitness activity, I wouldn't have recovered as quickly and as well as I did while discovering a new passion. If you think about it, your Physical Therapist during rehab becomes your Strength Coach. Their goal is to get you back in the condition you were at pre-injury through exercise. Highly recommended listening and/or reading.

I end this review on another quote that really stood out to me, "Focus on your performance not on unwanted outcomes. To perform at a champion's level, you must understand the importance of a long term memory for success and a short term memory, selective amnesia, for failure. Every Athlete fails but Champions do not dwell on their failures. Instead, they focus on the positive experiences and keep confidently moving forward." - Dr. Jim Afremow
Profile Image for Nelson.
144 reviews12 followers
November 4, 2021
Very good book. This is a sports psychology book but the author certainly didn't neglect educational psychology when writing it.

The front end of the book, the bulk contains studies from sports psychology, accompanied by quotes of successful athletes. Admittedly, those quotes were mildly disruptive to the narrative because he had to introduce the athlete and list off his/her accomplishments each time.

He relied a lot on Eastern wisdom as well. The first section is followed by a section with Zen koans, followed by short narratives from successful athletes. The book caters to three different ways we learn.

You should read this every day for your ra-ra-ra!

I think you should constantly be reading a ra-ra-ra book.

Addendum: Having watched a lot of football, it's clear where some coaches get their philosophies from. For example, Kalani tells his players to loosen up and trust their preparation. That instruction is covered repeatedly in this book.

Before the game against ranked and formidable TCU in 2006, Bronco told his players that they don't need to play their best game, they just need to execute. That philosophy also flows from this book; sometimes when players come up against a very tough opponent, they feel like they need to do something drastic, which can lead to disastrous circumstances.
Profile Image for Vasco.
451 reviews20 followers
January 18, 2019
The bad: sometimes it feels like a watered down mix of motivional techniques obtained from Tony Robbins and the like mixed with athlete testimonials to legitimize it.

The good: the reverse side of the previous point. It's a summary of existing visualization, motivation and other techniques, but it's a nice not-before-seen mix of them that meshes together pretty well.

I read this book in one go the day before my first marathon. I love it. It's a very skilfully and well put-together set of chapters on the various aspects of high-performance athletics, ranging from nutrition to training, mindset, Zen, life goals, and much more. It contains testimonies of Gold-winning athletes and other references.
Profile Image for Megan.
15 reviews16 followers
September 6, 2016
Easy read effectively divided into bite size chunks so you can read a bit each day and practice your mental discipline. Had great insights into developing your champion mindset even if you want to be a champion at something other than athletics. I'm not an athlete, but I still thought the concepts were helpful for pursing to the fullest extent the things I am passionate about.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. (Thank you!)
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 2 books18 followers
June 24, 2014
Read. Repeat. Read. Repeat. I'm an athlete and this is one of the best sports and performance books I've read.
6 reviews
February 27, 2020
4.5 - Great book about positive sports psychology, but a lot of this could be applied to life in general too.
Profile Image for Jamie Charles.
55 reviews10 followers
November 20, 2022

More rah rah than science. The same message on repeat for 250+ pages - with a few lists. This book would be a good pep talk when times are tough in your chosen sport.
Profile Image for Kristian.
42 reviews
November 2, 2022
Kinda wasn't what I was looking for, but the main takeaway is that to be successful in athletics, great discipline and mental determination is needed. But honestly, that's basically advice for all areas of life anyways.

I thought the quotes and stories of star athletes were good, but way too brief. I'd have appreciated fewer anecdotes if they had more depth. I didn't love all the parables and fables that were woven into the book. Like they have cliché but decent takeaways, but they seem so arbitrary given that they... aren't real.
Profile Image for Sophia Dutterer.
24 reviews
October 15, 2022
Usually these types of books are not my cup of tea and, to be honest, have never made it to my cart when buying books for reading on my own time. This book was recommended to me through my marathon training course. I have been challenges a lot with the mentality of overcoming longer distance runs, and surprisingly this book was quite helpful. It focuses mostly on major olympians and world-renowned athletes and how each in their own way battle conflict of body over mind. Because it presents a variety of perspectives I was able to pick and choose what works best for me, which I liked as I’m sure many other prospective athletes or first time marathoners have been recommended this read. Only 4 stars because it’s outdated and it needs to update some name changes and stats, but if you’re interested in getting motivated for any type of sport or competition this is a great read.
Profile Image for Kelly K.
7 reviews1 follower
January 8, 2019
If I were to subtitle this book it would be "Quotable Quotes and Think This". The first four chapters are chalked full of great information to implement and relay to a team and leaders fairly quickly. If you were pressed for time and needed information I would definitely get through the first four chapters and finish the rest at a later date. Each chapter was about 45 min listen through audible. I ended up pausing it to take notes and wish I would have bought the hard copy. I appreciated his knowledge of the psychology of sports and most of the stories were great resources for a coaches and other athletes to pass on to inspire their team and benefit from. He speaks in detail about controlling nerves which I found very helpful. "Get your butterflies to fly in formation" , he explains how to gear up intensity and how to shake off nerves when you have too many butterflies. I liked how he focused on having a champions mind when being a part of a team. He suggests " Helping your teams cause" , answering questions like "What am I doing that is hurting my team? and what am I not doing that is hurting my team?" Half way through the book he has a chapter about nutrition but does not go into great detail , having a fitness background myself, I did not find this information useful , but for possible young athletes who are unaware of how important nutrition is it could be beneficial as an introduction. The second half of the book I did not enjoy as much as the first half. I found the listings of athletes and what medals they received in each race a little monotonous. Overall I enjoyed this book and look forward to implementing many ideals. I would recommend to coaches and athletes preseason. About 8 hours on audible or 255 pages.
Profile Image for Mark Mitchell.
157 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2019
This book is a good exposition of practical, applicable sports psychology. Afremow is an experienced practitioner who has worked with a number of professional athletes. Though he makes his points in part through anecdotes featuring Olympic athletes, the ideas involved are in no way sport-specific; a sprinter, a basketball player, and a golfer could all benefit from the book.

For those that have read other sports psychology books (such Harvey Dorfman’s seminal _The Mental Game of Baseball_), there is, unfortunately, little new. But, for those that are new to the topic, Afremow’s book is as good an introduction as any to topics like having a present-moment focus, dealing with pain, and being willing to do what others will not.

There are two particularly compelling chapters, well worth reading even for those who already feel like they have a good understanding of the topic. The first is an application of Zen folk stories to sports; the presentation makes the messages memorable, and the fact that stories that originate so long ago and so far away are so obviously relevant underscores the universality of the challenges that athletes face. The second chapter of note is a collection of interviews with Olympians, wherein each Olympian shares their insights. Like the Zen stories, the Olympic stories are memorable and insightful.
2 reviews
April 16, 2015
The Champions Mind (How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive) by Jim Afremow, is an inspirational, all around great book. I have always focused on the physical side of my game, and this book has taught me just how important the mental side is as well. I recently tore my ACL, and was given this book by a family friend. It has motivated me to get back to doing what I love (sports). While I'm pushing through therapy quotes from this book are constantly running through my mind. Reminding me to keep moving, and that it IS mind over matter. One of my favorite quotes was "The attitude with which we approach the situation can determine our success or failure" (Peyton Manning). I felt that it spoke to me personally, considering my injury. This book not only teaches great strategies and lessons for athletes, but for everyday life as well.
Profile Image for Derek Neighbors.
236 reviews26 followers
November 5, 2018
So much good content, but delivery pretty rough. Book could have been half as long and delivered a better effect. Great layout of the mental side of performance. Lots of ammunition for my sports/team analogies. Really has me re-thinking about what greatness is composed of. The best sacrifice in the short term for what matters more in the long game. Willpower isn't enough and it's not exactly grit. It's something different.
Profile Image for Alex Devero.
540 reviews53 followers
June 30, 2015
Great book on developing champion's Mind and traits to get what do you want from your life. You don't have to be an athlete to learn a lot from this book. Everyone looking for developing their mental game will find many useful tips and advice along with interesting stories straight from Olympionic athletes. Are you ready to be a champion?
Profile Image for Sarah.
13 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2016
I loved this book. Written by a sports psychologist, it is full of advice and proven techniques for peak performance. There is a good balance of tips and references to Olympic and pro athletes who use the same mental techniques. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Zen and the importance of relaxation in a training plan. I know this is a book I will continually reference and reread.
Profile Image for Ravi Sinha.
251 reviews9 followers
June 29, 2021
Reminded me of Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack. I've always liked how books on sports, health, and fitness make me feel, and this was no exception. Besides being motivational, bonus points for also talking about what sportsmanship means. Worth listening to at the gym and on the way to the gym repeatedly.
September 20, 2022
Afremow does a great job talking about his past experiences with professional athletes on a relatable level for all athletes. I found myself being able to relate my struggles with that of some of the worlds greatest athletes. He also breaks each chapter into different segments and points that allows you to learn a new skill every chapter but also reflect on why that point matters.
Profile Image for Kenneth Gentry.
59 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2015
Great Information

This book should be required reading for any athlete wanting to compete at their personal best. I imagine I will read my highlights thousands of times to refocus the mind of a champion.
Profile Image for Roxanne Millar.
137 reviews
January 27, 2019
Great insights. Definitely a must for anyone wanting to improve athletically - pro or not. And lots of relevance to business. I run a team in a business setting and found a lot of relevant stuff in here.
Profile Image for Troy Farley.
107 reviews13 followers
July 24, 2019
We can all be Champions

Reduce Delay.

Commit to do what needs to be done. Every single day.

Win your Fight Thrus...

Have a good bad day.

Develop Sustained Obsession.

Excellence is not random.
Have the courage to start.
March 12, 2022
A great, must-read book for athletes and trainers. It contains tips and tricks how get on next level. Reading this book sets your mind on a proper path leading to achieve your goals. Mentioned tips are also applicable in daily life that's what makes this book unique and suitable for everyone.
Profile Image for Mark.
2 reviews
February 24, 2014
A extraordinarily helpful "how to" book for thinking like a champion in sports and daily life.
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