The Four C's of Success


Concentration, Composure, Confidence, and Commitment are four qualities athletes need to achieve high performance in training and racing. I will briefly describe the aspects of each quality to help you succeed in your athletic pursuits.

Concentration has three parts: the ability to focus on a task at hand, maintaining that focus, and redirecting that focus when it is disrupted. Managing these three elements during a race can be difficult as internal and external factors try to draw your attention and concentration away. External factors, such as getting boxed in during the swim or suffering a punctured tire during the bike, are often outside of the athlete’s control. Nevertheless, an athlete needs to respond appropriately to these external factors in order to have the best possible outcome. Internal factors are thoughts about those external distractions. For example, the athlete might think, “I can’t get out of this pack of swimmers. This is going to be a horrible swim”. Or, “I will never be able to place well after this flat tire”. Often these thoughts and interpretations arise quickly and without awareness on the part of the athlete. We do not often have control of our thoughts especially in a race situation or when fatigue is high. However, we have total control on how we respond to that distraction. Once the athlete is aware of the distracting thought, he or she is then able to redirect personal focus and improve concentration on the task.

“Ok, I have a flat. I am good at quickly changing my tire. Let me focus on the immediate task of my tire change so I can get back to racing as quickly as possible.”

Composure deals with self-control. Similar to concentrating on how one manages an external distraction, composure is the athlete’s ability to positively manage their response to stressful stimuli and quickly regain control. All athletes, regardless of experience or ability level, feel emotional pressure during competition. These pressures develop from a range of feelings such as: anxiety, stress, satisfaction and joy. Athletes must develop emotional composure when dealing with these pressures. Becoming mindful of the thoughts that enter into the athlete’s mind during training and racing (This group is riding way above my ability level, or, I will never be able to maintain the interval my coach prescribed for me today) is critical in being able to shift attention away from the negative thoughts and regain composure. Again, you may not be able to control the experience or thoughts that occur, but you can control how you respond to them.

“These intervals are hard, for sure. But my coach assigned these to me because he knows I can complete them successfully. I will take them one at a time and remain relaxed and in control”

Confidence is found in athletes who believe in themselves, their ability, and their skills in mastering a challenging race or training session. Confidence is having a positive attitude and self-image. A confident athlete might experience negative or disruptive thoughts but will be able to manage and work through them effectively. Confident athletes are persistent in the face of obstacles, put forth great efforts, set challenging goals, and maintain focus while training and racing. Careful! Athletes can become too confident and display cocky or over-confident behavior. An over-confident athlete fails to see the need to prepare and lacks the discipline to train effectively and set realistic long-term goals. Confident athletes are diligent in all areas of preparation (training, goal setting, compliance with the coach’s training plan, nutrition, and recovery, to name a few). Take risks, race to win, be persistent, be optimistic, and take responsibility. Be confident!

“I know I will have a successful race. I have prepared correctly and followed my training plan. My goals are realistic and aggressive. I am ready to race!”

Triathlons are a time intensive sport and take a considerable amount of commitment to train and compete well. A committed athlete understands and is willing to make sacrifices needed to become a successful athlete. Tired after that morning workout? It’s cold and rainy outside? Commitment means completing that second workout in the cold rain knowing the importance of each training session in relation to your goals. Athletes of all experience and ability levels need to be committed. This commitment includes being attentive to the training, the coaching plan, the recovery periods, and nutrition. Triathlons take full time commitment. Athletes can’t train in the morning then just forget about recovery and nutrition in the afternoon. Athlete’s, however, are committed to other roles in life (spouse, family, work) and it is important to define the level of commitment to triathlons and structure the training plan appropriately. This is where communication between the athlete and coach is paramount to insure successful training and realistic goal setting.

“I really enjoy training and I am motivated to succeed in the goals I have set. Sometimes it is difficult to get out the door to train, but once I start the session I always feel good and proud of the training path I am on.”

There you have it, four little words and concepts to help you with your athletic success. Run them through your mind before every training session and race and you will be well on your way to your own athletic success.

Brought to you by Athlete Architecture…We build endurance athletes.


and Facebook

Chris Toriggino. coach. founder.