Mental Toughness Exercise: “Stay in the Moment”

“Michael Phelps vs Chad le Clos”


Michael Phelps. 

The most decorated Olympian of all TIME.

In the 200m fly event he demonstrated throughout the prelims, semi-finals, and finals one of THE BEST mental toughness strategies I have witnessed. He held himself back in the prelims and semis to save himself for the final race knowing during each race he was capable of being placed 1st going into the finals. He also did not think about the past when in the 2012 Olympics he placed second in the 200m fly to Chad le Clos, the statements made by le Clos in the past few years, or even acknowledge that le Clos was standing in front of him in the ready room before the 200m fly finals.

Phelps stayed in the moment. He was solely focused on himself, the race, and nailing each turn as it came. You could clearly see the divide between Phelps and le Clos but it was not because of their swimming abilities but their mental abilities. Le Clos was ALWAYS super heightened focused on Phelps, trying to get Phelps psyched out, and beating Phelps. Even during the final race le Clos was not swimming his race in the moment, he already was only focused on the finish. That is demonstrated in the picture seen all over social media where you can clearly see le Clos looking at Phelps, but Phelps is looking straight ahead towards the finish. I wonder if le Clos had a different strategy, especially a better Mental Toughness game, if he would of placed better.


If you have to run 4 miles but your constantly checking how far you have gone are you staying in the moment or focused on the finish? Today is the dreaded leg day and after each exercise completed you keep counting how many exercises you have left to complete…. are you staying in the moment or focused on the finish?

It is easy to focus on the finish and challenging to stay in the moment. But who is the ultimate winner? As they always say, if it’s not challenging you it will not change you.

Stay in the moment by focusing on each rep, hiding the clock, making a running playlist on Spotify, and by taking control of your emotions.

So. Are you ready for GOLD or 4th place?


*Picture by “Pascal Le Segretain/Getty”


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