May 9, 2023

The Winner Effect: Small Wins Lead to Great Victories

Blayze Research


The Winner Effect: Small Wins Lead to Great Victories Image

“I don’t think its bragging to say I’m something special” – Mohammad Ali

When you watch a major sporting event, like the World Series or the World Cup, notice all the athletes that made it that far. How did these athletes make it there? What made them more special than the teammates they played with growing up? How did these athletes become consistent winners?

Most likely these top athletes developed their winning mindset from years of work. Mindset plays a key role in the success of an athlete. It helps them find ways to succeed personally and within their team.

A winning mindset means you have belief in your abilities to know that you can achieve the win. Everyone will fall short of their goals at some point. The whole journey of getting to where you want to go will require you to improve yourself to achieve the results you seek.

Winning is one of the most powerful drivers in our brains. We all want to win, even if we are not aware of it all the time.

How can you, as an athlete, develop a strong winning mindset? Research suggests it is by starting with small wins.

Talent or Luck?

Consistently winning is often attributed to talent or luck.

Some athletes seem to win and excel no matter what they do. Are these athletes working harder or training longer than others? Or are these athletes simply lucky? Sure, these athletes have skills, but why do they seem to always win or excel?

Both play a role in someone’s continued success, but it is more scientific than talent or luck.

The Winner Effect

The Winner Effect refers to a study that showed when an animal wins a fight, they are more likely to win subsequent fights afterward. Even if these fights are against tougher opponents. Once the animal starts to win, they tend to continue to win.

Wait. Animals? Weren’t we just talking about athletes?

Good news. The laws of The Winner Effect also govern humans. In the simplest terms, small victories create pathways to larger ones. When we perceive that we won a competition or challenge, physical changes within our brains occur to encourage more winning.

Let us look at some of the research behind The Winner Effect.

Studies show that in tennis matches, a very close win or loss in a set has a significant effect on the athlete’s chance of winning the next set.

In Ian H. Robertson’s book, The Winner Effect, he notes that when boxing great Mike Tyson decided to come back after a forced time off, his manager set him up to box against two smaller opponents. (Not in size, but competition). After each win, his next challenger would be higher skilled, but still unworthy of beating Tyson. But for his third fight, he would take on the World Champion – and win. Did these small victories help Tyson prepare for a greater challenger?

With each victory, the brain physically changes. It adds testosterone receptors. Testosterone releases dopamine. Dopamine is the pleasure hormone in our brains. It also gives us the motivation to accomplish a task. Dopamine is a part of our reward system within our brains.

When we win, we get a rush of pleasure in our brains from dopamine. More winning means more pleasure. When we seek to continue this feel-good experience, our focus, intelligence, and aggression increase.

With these increased levels, we improve our odds of winning against tougher opponents. Then the cycle continues and winning keeps pushing you to more wins. All of this is your brain’s pursuit of more dopamine – it wants to feel good again.

The Winner Effect and Sports

When athletes win less competitive matches, they see a near 20% increase in the chance to win their next match. You see this all the time in college sports. Teams, especially college football teams, will start the season with what seem to be lesser opponents.

These coaches use easy wins to gauge their team and training needs. But it also allows the team to get early rushes of dopamine to help kick off the winning cycle. The team’s confidence grows, and they can take on their next, more difficult opponent.

Helping your team find small wins can help lead the team to great victories throughout the season.

But how can you apply the Winner Effect to your athletic performance? Can this be done without a team? Absolutely!

The Winner Effect and Blayze

A great way to apply the Winner Effect to yourself is to set yourself up with small wins. You can do this with goal setting and tracking.

Blayze offers weekly training sessions with professional coaches. These coaches work with you to identify areas you need to improve upon and listen to you to understand what your overall goals are for yourself and for your team.

The coaches help you understand goal setting and how to accomplish those goals. Goal setting is done every week. What this does is allow you to work on areas of improvement, while also completing small wins that will eventually lead to a bigger victory.

For example, maybe you have a goal to make your varsity soccer team in only 3 months. Instead of focusing on making the varsity soccer team, Blayze coaches help you break down this goal into smaller, easier goals. Maybe you have smaller goals within that larger goal like shooting with your non-dominant foot, running faster, and improving 1v1 skills. What skills and areas of improvement do you need to accomplish to achieve these goals? Is your technique correct? Do you need to find specific drills for shooting with that foot? Maybe you need to work on a sprint running plan?

Process goals, or the actions we take in order to achieve a certain outcome, are fully within your control. This allows you to stack wins easier. You can break down any process in your weekly plans that allow the Winner Effect to work its magic.

Blayze coaches help you identify these areas and work on these skills weekly. You can track your progress with the Blayze curated Athletic Development Planner. Plan out your week and weekly goal and hold yourself accountable. Find out what works for you and what does not work for you.

Soccer player building confidence by completing soccer training plan

Learn More With Blaze!

The secret to mastering any skill is practice! Are you looking to become a stronger player? Could you use direct feedback from a professional coach on how to improve your passing skills, communication, or vision on the field?

At Blayze we give you personalized video analysis coaching sessions and individual training programs, plus mentorship from professional coaches.

Our Blayze program breaks down the barriers to finding elite-level training by making top-tier coaches available for ALL athletes. Custom-developed coaching sessions can help you improve your on-field skills, so you are performing at your very best. For a truly unique and personalized feedback experience, click HERE to learn more about the Blayze program!

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