Michael Phelps is getting gold medals and breaking world records. One of swimming’s most decorated athletes and world record holder 20 times over. What are Michael Phelps’ success secrets we can learn from this outstanding athlete and over achiever?
1. Know your territory, prepare, and adapt as necessary.
Phelps says, “Within an international meet travel plenty time ahead to adjust to time zone or food or whatever it is.”
2. Focus on what you do best and tune out the media and mouths.
Phelps wisely remarks after the Olympics in Athens, “Media is a big part. If there’s a head line like in Athens, ‘Winning 7 gold medals.’ That was all over the place. I really just wanted to win one. That was the dead honest truth.”
“When I hear things said in the media,” Michael Phelps says, “I try not to pay attention to them. Everyone talks and they’re there to get attention from people.”
3. Conserve your emotional energy and direct it toward what you do best.
Michael Phelps told Bob Costas after winning 8 gold medals in Beijing, China, that he doesn’t get involved in verbal wars, nor does Michael try to verbally answer his critics. Phelps just does it in the water and lets his performance speak for itself.
4. Humility and staying true to yourself.
After winning several gold medals in Athens, Michael returned to the University of Michigan where he lived and trained preparing for Beijing. Michael says, “Life for me, I think it’s simple. …I express what I’m thinking and don’t hold anything or nothing back.”
When asked to compare the Michael Phelps who competed in Beijing to the 19 year old headed to Athens, Phelps acknowledges he in his younger years of competition was a bit clueless to the totality of what he was in for as an Olympic swimmer. “That was a deer in headlights. I had no idea what I was doing.”
When asked before the Beijing games how he would end an article of himself after the conclusion of the swimming competition, Michael humbly replied: “I have nothing to say. It’s the Olympic games and I’m out there representing my country. If I’m the best prepared as I can be, then I’m going to be happy and that’s all that matters.”
5. Stay calm and composed under pressure.
Considering all the enormous expectations fans and those in swimming put on the extraordinary Michael Phelps, he stays cool. En route to Beijing, before which Phelps had taken the world stage numerous times, Michael knew there would be 18 races in 9 days, more events for him than any other swimmer.
Nevertheless Phelps said going into Beijing, “I am more relaxed now, more calm. I know what to handle. I know what to expect.”
6. Dedication, preparation, and intense training.
Phelps is in a league of his own. Having now passed the awkward teen years, Phelps is pushing the limits as the fastest swimmer in his sport. When the alarm clock sounds at 7:30am Phelps hits the pool consistently with the same amount of desire and drive never holding back. Michael swims 4 hours a day including on Sundays, holidays, his birthday, and Christmas.
7. Goal setting and a commitment to be your personal best.
His coach Bob Bowman has given Michael the tools he needs to stay motivated for a lifetime. The two together write down their goals, which consist of faster times for Michael. Phelps sets high goals and maintains high hopes for himself, refusing to plateau or become content to merely compare himself with other swimmers among his competition.
The challenge to reach the top of swimming greats, Olympic medal holders, and world record breakers is extremely demanding. The dedication required to stay at one’s best while being continually bombarded and distracted by the media will require even more focus in the years to come.
One thing is for sure however. Michael Phelps is the first athlete in sport to win 8 gold medals in one Olympics and for that his legacy will forever remain. Phelps undoubtedly is a class act in and out of the water, while undoubtedly inspiring athletes of every sport throughout the world.