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Athletic Development

Was the Little Engine Right ? Mental Strength For Athletes

Athletic Focus

Where is our focus

The little engine who could, how many of us are like him? I have come out of a six-year retirement after having success as a world champion powerlifter. It was not easy. I’m older and I feel like I’m falling apart, but I have a goal at 165 lbs total 1800 lbs.  My squat is right around 625, my bench is around 425, and my deadlift is 550. Are these good lifts? Yes. Should I just stay content with this total because it isn’t 1800 lbs? Or should I say, ” I will get my goal no matter what?” The focus of an athlete is key to being successful.


I have trained many athletes and have noticed two types of athletes. The one group, I would be in, “I think I can” and the other group, “if it is too hard, then I am not cut out to do it.” I listen to a lot of athletes while they talk to me, most times it is easy to tell which group each athlete is in or what type of athlete they are. All of us have choices on if we will be great at something or just being content. What do we treasure? Are we willing to push back the pain, do the hard work, and when it starts being hard, say “I can do more.”

I live in Utah and I have trained some clients for the Spartan Beast. One of these clients came in overweight and said that he wants to reach certain goals. I went ahead and developed a training program for him. We started at a pre-condition stage, hard, but I could have made it really hard. It was funny, he started off with huge goals, but very obtainable. When it started to get hard, he had a choice, keep going or quit. What goes through your head?

I’m not too surprised that he didn’t stick with it. He had many factors counting against him. Being overweight, High Body Fat, Family, and Work. Life is great and very hard. We have so many choices laying in front of us. My good friends, that are powerlifters, some are like this client. When it is hard I will do something else or be like Scott. Scott is # 1 all time in the bench press at 220 lb weight class in single ply gear. Scott and I trained at the same time and got married two months apart from each other. We have had kids around the same time. What makes him different is his focus he will never miss a workout. I asked him about a year ago, if he ever missed a workout, simple answer, no.

You can look at many factors and have an excuse for why I didn’t get this goal for this reason or what not. Where is the focus of the person? Is he strong enough to push through the obstacles or is life getting in the way and helping out his excuse? If we really want our goals, then we will find a way to overcome these obstacles.

For this client, it wasn’t his goals, he had good goals. Did he think much on how to focus on the goal at hand? Was he going to allow outside sources dictate what was going to happen to him?  When looking at goals and being in the moment, how do we respond? Stay focused on the goal at hand, like the little engine that could or say OH NO this is too hard I will find something else to try? We all have our choices but having and maintaining a focus will allow one to have more success.




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