Martha Karolyi

Martha Karolyi on Preparing for Greatness

Hoda Kotb from NBC’s TODAY Show recently interviewed U.S. Women’s Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi, about retirement, coaching and getting her athletes ready for competition on the biggest stage in the world. The interview touched on a few points I want to highlight and elaborate on.

When Martha was asked how she prepared the Final Five, which includes Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, to stay “calm and focused for when the big moment comes” Martha replied she tries to simulate their competitive experience every day in training, day after day after day so when the “big moment” came it would be normal. This philosophy can be seen throughout her reign as head of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics program. “Girls just do what we’ve practiced. Don’t overdo it and don’t under do it. Just do the same thing that you’ve practiced.”

Hoda was quick to pick up on the fact that this is a great philosophy for life. Just do you the best you can every day so you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to “show up” in a “big moment.”

It’s all in the preparation. As Coach Wooden is quoted as saying, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Which brings me back to my musing about being ANXIOUS. The fact that our U.S. Gymnastics team prepared so well, they were able to turn their “nerves” into “excitement,” their “anxiety” into “enthusiasm.” You could see it in their faces… Confidence, Certainty and Trust that things would turn out just how they had in all of the previous days of training.

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Edwin Rivas
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Edwin Rivas

My first interest in sports was Boxing, and I remember a reoccurring theme was that battles are won in the gym.

The explanation given was that a fighter might hit harder, might be faster, but for the person who put in the most meaningful work in the gym; It’ll show on fight night.

Not quite the same sport I’m referencing here, but I felt the analogies were appropriate.