Letter to Open Athletes 

Dear Open Athlete,

I know how you feel. Training is up and down, you feel good on certain days and miserable on others. Some days you expect to do something and you end up not being able to. You feel panicked because the competition is literally around the corner and you feel like you need more time or you’re simply scared of what will or could happen.

 

The feeling of uncertainty is taking over your training at times and it can be really overwhelming. I understand you. You care about this. You trained hard for this and you want to do well. You want to do better than last year. No athlete feels 100% confident throughout the year, in fact, part of our obsession with improving ourselves throughout the year actually means that we are striving for confidence in our capacities in order to achieve our respective goals. I would say this: in fact, the quest for confidence is the driving factor for improving oneself throughout the year.

 

We are at a crucial time in the year in terms of emotional distress, so much questioning and uncertainty can really drive an athlete crazy. I’ve talked to numerous athletes and their thoughts are very similar: “I don’t feel like I’m where I should be”. The reality is, you won’t know where you should be or are until the Open is over and not only is that in a long time but there are numerous factors that you have no control over. So here is what I suggest you focus your emotional energy on:

 

  • Remember where you started off, where you’re going and where you’ve been.
  • Appreciate your training. This is where you have the most control and where you are molding yourself into the athlete you want to be.
  • Remember that you are doing your best
  • Understand that you are a PERSON, not just an athlete. Your support crew loves YOU not your RESULTS (you = qualities that made you set a goal in the first place)
  • Take the time to understand your “negative” feelings when you have them, and ask yourself WHY do I feel this way.

 

The last point is important: “Why do I feel nervous?” or “Why am I so scared?”. Answer these questions as honestly as you can. IT’S OK to be scared or nervous, by answering these questions, you can lead up to some important realizations:

-Why am I so Scared of the Open?

Because I worked really hard and I want to achieve my goal.

Because if I don’t achieve my goal I will feel XXXX.

Because if I fail people will think I’m XXXX.

 

Facing these answers could make you realize a lot about yourself and suddenly, you understand yourself better. This can take a lot of pressure off your shoulders and this is also where being an athlete can help you become a better person.

Lots of athletes are afraid of looking like failure whether they admit it to themselves or not but think about the significance of the statement: “I’m scared of failing because if I fail it means others will see me as a failure”. Is that really true? Do you really think that if you fall short of your goals people will see you as a failure? Would you look at someone who falls short of their goals and see them as a failure?

This is an extremely difficult time for athletes who have big goals and high expectations. This time of year – Open prep – is, what keeps us moving forward, it’s why we compete and why we set goals. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it but you’re strong and brave enough to willingly place yourself in this situation. You signed up for the Open knowing full well the anxiety, uncertainty and regret (the: “why the fuck do I do this” type of regret) will come, but you will not be a victim to these thoughts. Rather, you will go with it and learn from it.

 

Progression means discomfort, you know this and you cherish this. Even though right now, at this very moment, you might not be actually cherishing it, but when it’s all said and done, you will be proud of yourself.

Enjoy this time. It’s not comfortable but it is what makes you better.

 

– Michele Letendre