Athlete Success Journal

Success Journal

And how you can become ultra successful

Writing down what you do is nothing new, yet it is one of the most important tools you can use to reach your goals. This article will help make the idea of a journal much cooler and provide tips on what to write so you can use it to accomplish whatever you set out to do.

I’m taking these ideas from my own work as a strength and conditioning coach, ski coach, and predominantly from Lanny Bassham. Mr. Bassham is an Olympic Champion and World Champion in shooting. His book With Winning in Mind has a lot of very useful tools for any athlete, parent, and coach. I highly recommend it and thanks to Chelsea Hoopes for getting it for me.


“Winning is not an accident. You must plan your work, work your plan, and be accountable”
                                                             -Lanny Bassham


“Most people will not keep a journal because they are just lazy. Look, if you are playing just to have fun, this section may not be for you but if you want to win you must separate yourself from the others in your dedication… It is not acceptable to not do it. It is not acceptable to be unable to remember what I have or have not done. It is not acceptable to make the same mistakes over and over because I did not record the solutions the first time. It is not acceptable to not know if my plan is correct or if it is working at all. It is not acceptable to be defeated by someone keeping a Performance Journal. It is not acceptable to beat myself. It is not acceptable to lose because I’m just too lazy to do what is needed to win.”

A few notes:

Coaches often have a lot of athletes they train. We all know that memory is not always the most reliable tool to use. This goes for both athlete and coach. An athlete may remember a training session completely different than coach. I know I’m guilty of forgetting things all the time. A Success Journal will go a long ways in showing what happened at training, at competitions, and in your overall progress.

Creating and maintaining a proper Success Journal is not easy. It takes commitment and fortitude. Once it’s a habit, you won’t be able to imagine your life without one.

It’s never too late to start!

Also, Mr. Bassham believes that we have 3 ‘minds’: the Concious, Subconcious, and our Self-Image. A proper Success Journal can help build our Self-Image by taking a completely objective look at each day, each practice, each run, and even each turn so that we continually develop our own self-image in a way that we have ultimate control over. This will lead to a stronger conscious, and subconscious mind as we develop our confidence and trust in our own abilities.

Our Self-Image goes a long way in determining the outcome of our actions. I’m constantly trying to get athletes to reframe their words and sentences to help them build a greater Self-Image. Here’s the most common example:

“How’d the race go?”

“It sucked. I skied terrible.”

“… you’ll do better next time”

Not if you keep telling yourself you skied terrible. Sucky skiing then becomes the expectation. You have skied terrible, so now Skiing Terrible is you, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s OK to recognize a poor performance, but only if there’s a positive and a solution attached to that recognition.

Do everything you can to build your self-image how you’d want it to be. Do you want to be a fast skier? Do you want to win? Do you want to be successful? If so, then be more deliberate with the words you use and think about the effect they have on your psyche and performance.

“How’d the race go?”

“First run I had a couple of mistakes because I was pushing the limits, but I also made some really good turns. Next run I know what to expect and will master it.”

“Yes you will!”

When we say we sucked at something, for some reason we want the world to know that we have an excuse for a poor performance, even though the world could really care less. People do care about you and how you did, but they don’t want to hear negativity. That just brings everyone down.

Negativity and excuses are black holes that will drain good performance.

Which brings me back to the Success Journal. Writing down what happened at training and at competitions will help you see where you can improve both mentally and physically. You’ll be better at recognizing negative loops and have a greater understanding of their effects and how to break free of them. You’ll also have a lot more positive ammunition to fire at yourself.

Honestly, you may or may not like what you see at first. You may realize that you have a lot of work to do and a long way to get to where you want to go. And that’s just perfect! Without this reflection and objective analysis, you may have just gone on believing that you were already good enough and could just get by on the bare minimum. Mediocrity is another trap that’s so easy to fall into.

Knowing where you are and where you want to be is that first step to developing a plan on how to get there.

Why use a Performance Journal? A plan is not easily followed if it is not written down. It is of no use if you cannot readily refer to it. AMP would be a great place to do so for most of you since carrying a book is not ideal for skiing. Plus, it has the added benefit of accountability to your coaches. We get to see what you add in your notes and can offer feedback and guidance.

The Parts of a Proper Success Journal

In addition to Mr. Bassham’s suggestions, I’m going to add a section at the beginning of your Journal: Me and My Goals. This is where you write down who you are, what your priorities are and your goals. More on this below.

Daily Sections:

  • The Competition Log
  • The Equipment Log
  • The General Data Section
  • Your Solution Analysis
  • Your Success Analysis
  • Your Daily Goal Statement

The Me and My Goals section will be at the start of your journal. You can come back and add to this as you go a long, but this should be the first thing you fill out. The idea is to build a starting point of “You.” Who are you and what’s important to you? This could be as simple as, “I am Tyson Henrie and I am the best darn coach in the world.” Starting here by explaining you will help you build your Self-Image how you want it to be. It will also make it easier to change bad habits later on. You’ll also have an easier time making tough decisions later when the going gets rough and you may not feel like putting in the effort. Defining who you are and what’s important to you will create the foundation for doing hard things because the choice is already made. It’s who you are and nothing will change it.

For example:

I am Tyson Henrie and I am a professional coach. I work hard for my athletes and am continually learning and striving to grow. I recognize opportunities to teach and am empathetic to those around me. I want people to succeed and be happy more than anything else and will do whatever I can to help make that happen. I hate wasting time. I love efficiency. I loathe mediocrity and apathy. I love grit and the thoughtful process. I try to do everything with style, grace, and poise.

I measure my success not only with my athlete’s immediate results, but also their long-term success as human beings. Are they creative and happy? Do they enjoy life and skiing? Do they go on to create solutions for major problems? Do they go on to serve others and teach them what they learned? Do they take advantage of every opportunity to learn?

Try it out. Don’t worry about sounding cheesy, so long as it’s real or what you want to be real. You’ll know when you’ve written down something meaningful to you. You’ll get a little buzz in your chest and happy thoughts of pride in your mind.

The Competition Log is your calendar. Write down the dates of your competitions and any info you think would be helpful to remember for them: where they are, who’s going, and what you’d like to accomplish by those dates. To progress in ski racing, qualifying for certain events is important. Although we don’t want that to be the sole focus of your career, it is good to keep in the back of your mind just so you’re not surprised when you either do or don’t qualify for something. Your coach will guide you through this and can help you plan your seasons, or even multi-seasons.

The Equipment Log is used to record any new gear or changes to your gear. What do you set your boot buckles at? What degree are your skis tuned at? What wax did you use for what type of snow? How many times did you brush your skis? Did you tune your trainers the same as your racers? Etc. As you get older, this will become a very important aspect to your success.

The General Data Section is to record all data from a training or competition day. Fill in the date, location, event (training or competition), duration, and the weather. Then write down exactly what you learned and what you accomplished during this period. How many runs did you take? How many hours? Did you do anything to prepare for this training or competition in the morning or the night before? What was the result? This is the meat and potatoes of your journal. Just record the facts.

The Solution Analysis section is your chance to write down any solutions to challenges you have discovered during a training day. If you have a problem you cannot find a solution to, simply state, “I’m looking for a solution to…” and then describe the problem. Also, write down the solutions to problems you learned today in this section. Never repeat the same mistake twice!

The Success Analysis portion is for recognizing anything you did well in training or competition for that day. When you do this, you will improve the probability that you will repeat the success. This forces you to be positive about your sport and your performance.

The Daily Goal Statement is possibly the most important part of the journal. It can be a reiteration of your overall goal, or a micro goal that you’ve come across through the Solution Analysis or your daily training. You’ll write this EVERYDAY and in the present tense, as if you’ve already reached the goal. Examples would be:

  • I get angles like Ligety
  • I keep my upper body stable and driving down the hill
  • I carve both skis on every turn
  • I move my hips forward in the transition
  • I am on the U16 Regional Team
  • I am the most consistent finisher in the USA.
  • I ski steep pitches fast and aggressive by dropping my hip and completing my turn.

Goal statements should be achievements that are currently out of reach, but not out of sight. Every time you write down a goal, we are that much closer to its attainment. You’ll either reach your goal, or stop writing it down. As long as you continue to write it down, you’ll be moving toward reaching the goal.

What are you waiting for? Start your journal today. It will be one of the best things you could do for yourself as a young athlete.

"Failure is knowing you didn't do what you should have done."
                                               - John Wooden