In the July/August 2016 issue of Eventing USA magazine article on the Rio Olympic Games, Coach David O’Connor wrote about the importance of “being a closer,” a term often used to mean the ability to maintain focus, drive and performance throughout an event. That is, to be as sharp and as accurate at the end of your ride or competition as you are at the beginning.
Also described as “making it happen when it counts,” this skill is essential to a champion athlete. And like any skill, it can be learned and strengthened.
First let’s understand what happens when this “closer” capacity is not full developed. David described mistakes made at the end of dressage tests, opportunities lost. What caused these mistakes? A loss of focus which simply means that one’s mind has turned its attention away from the task at hand, in this case, executing the dressage movement, and on to something else.
A USOC sports psychologist tells an amazing story of the U.S. diving team at the Beijing Olympic games. The Chinese and Russian divers were highly favored to compete for the silver and gold medals. The United States went in thinking that at best they were vying for a bronze medal.
The competition went as predicted until the final round, at which point the Chinese made several errors. Unexpectedly, the U.S. was now in a position to win a silver medal. The Russians performed next and similarly, faltered and made errors. The US found themselves in the totally unanticipated position of needing to land a very simple dive to capture the gold medal. To read more from Abigail, click here.