3 Keys To Elite: Preparation

Will To Win: This article examines the first key to becoming an elite purposeful performer: preparation. Stay tuned to learn about the next two keys: goal setting and embracing the now.

Whether you compete in wrestling, grappling, bjj, judo, shooto, mma, or any other discipline, you absolutely must perform with a fundamental purpose. To maximize your true potential and evolve into your best self and competitor, you absolutely have to perform with purpose, no exceptions.

Working with American Top Team’s professional fighters allows me to appreciate the purposeful practice structure and technique development for which Master Liborio and his staff adhere. Despite ATT’s all-encompassing framework of purposeful practice, fighters can lose a sense of purpose at times; something not uncommon amongst elite-level performers. The toll of waking early everyday to train two to four hours, then again in the evening for another round of multi-disciplinary training, can be tiring, stressful, and painful. Such can contribute to reduced motivation, ongoing fatigue, and general apathy. It is critical that competitors establish a foundation of purposeful behaviors to help combat these effects and trigger renewed motivation for each training.

So what exactly is a purposeful performer, and what’s needed to becoming one? 


Purposeful performers are those rare individuals who improve themselves everyday. They constantly examine their skillsets to determine what can be done better, and they’re not afraid of taking risks to becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. Their thoughts, attitudes and behaviors may be unique to each, but their commitment to a lifestyle governed by three essential keys is mutual. A number of areas need to be considered in becoming an elite purposeful performer, but none are more crucial than these: preparation, goal setting, and embracing the now.

Preparation is the single most important ingredient to becoming a habitual purposeful performer, and champion. Simple preparation factors (having every item of your training gear, stretching, proper nutrition) are regarded as mere basics by elite purposeful performers. To truly reap the benefits of your training and maximize your competitive opportunities, you must be intensely committed to establishing behaviors that set you apart from your peers.

Begin by examining your daily routines from the ground level. Are you sleeping eight to ten hours nightly, allowing you to wake by 8am? Do you sufficiently prepare your meals in advance of each day or week, including juiced veggies and fruits, or performance supplements? Are you supporting recovery and endurance through weekly ice baths, massages, pilates or yoga? Do you perform dynamic mental strengthening routines by reading or training your mental skills? These areas are essential to separating yourself from your peers. When approached carefully, they can be cost effective, manageable, and incredibly valuable in strengthening your performance output. Before you can begin steps toward becoming a true purposeful performer and longtime champion, you must commit yourself to addressing these areas. For those of you who’ve mastered these basics you are ready to move forward.

Three factors in your daily preparation must include: performance analysis, video feedback, and goal setting. Performance analysis involves setting a mission for each session, and reviewing your training after each session. For many professionals this tends to include two sport-specific trainings and at least one type of strength or endurance workout.

A mission is essentially a commitment to how you will perform. Notice it doesn’t suggest how you might perform, or how you hope to perform? This is a declaration, a contract with yourself. You are affirming what you will do with a confident mind and conviction in your heart. I encourage my clients to use acronyms, quotations and mantras as their missions. They commonly use go-to lines which stimulate desired mental and physical responses.

Training Review
When reviewing your training it can be helpful to examine each session using the W.I.L.L. format:

  • Well – Focus on what you did well, the positives. Anchor those moments and allow them to become part of your muscle memory. Mentally rehearse them, and strengthen them by setting out to do them again.
  • Improve – Identify what you can improve upon. If you’re uncomfortable or weak in a specific performance area, accept it as an opportunity to get better and set out to do just that.
  • Learned Leverage – Come away with tangible learning outcomes that you can leverage for the future. Examples most often include areas you learned about yourself in certain performance moments and proper technique execution.
Elite purposeful performers are not created overnight. To become one, you must adjust your daily thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, and live by these standards everyday. Separate yourself from others. Accept the challenge. Start today by addressing your areas of performance preparation.

Stay tuned to learn about the next two keys: goal setting and embracing the now.

I have over ten years of performance training through my experiences in coaching, mental conditioning and edutaining of groups and individual clients. My diverse athletic experiences as a college football player, triathlete, mixed martial artist, and coach, have helped intensify my awareness for cultivating elite-level success across various sport, performance, and tactical disciplines. I regularly consult with professional athletes and organizational leadership, including, NFL, UFC, MLB, NBA, NHL, WTA, and PGA, as well as CrossFit, and NCAA competitors and staffs. I served as the Mental Performance Specialist with the US Army Special Forces, Director of Mental Conditioning with the Evert Tennis Academy, and I direct in-house consultation and leadership development with public and private sector organizations. I’m available to provide dynamic and interactive workshops for your organization and large-scale symposiums.

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