Gratitude to improve your polo game - Guillermo Terrera of La Dolfina Polo Ranch

THE MENTAL GAME: Get Inside the Mind of a Grateful Polo Player – Part 2

By John Haime

[3-minute read]

In the second of our three-part series for developing players on how gratitude can improve your game, international mental performance coach John Haime explains the characteristics of a grateful player. See how you stack up and learn what you need to change in your mind in order to see a change on the field. Read part 1 of the series here


Grateful players appreciate what they have. While some players complain and make excuses, grateful players appreciate the opportunity to play a sport they love and are thankful for all the benefits that come with  it: the connection with a magnificent animal, fitness, relationships, life lessons, the joy of winning, lessons learned from losing, and the opportunity to challenge and test their abilities.

Grateful players are glad to have competitors. Appreciate your competitors! Competitors can bring out the best in you, and without them you do not have the opportunity to test your limits. In his autobiography, Olympic track star Carl Lewis said he chose to embrace his competitors as essential in the quest for performance excellence, rather than seeing them as enemies meant to be beaten down. He won 10 Olympic medals, nine of them gold.

Grateful players appreciate the journey and struggle. They know there will be difficulties and that the sport of polo often flows in up-and-down cycles. Grateful players learn from these struggles and always move forward. There is an appreciation in the value of their struggles and an ability to look at the big picture and know there are brighter days ahead.

Grateful players “sweep the shed.” Like the world champion New Zealand All Blacks, the great rugby team that cleans their own dressing room after every training session and game, grateful polo players appreciate everyone around them who contributes to their ability to play (coaches, grooms, umpires, flaggers, volunteers and all others). They have no attitude of entitlement.

Grateful players enjoy pressure. Is there pressure in polo? Absolutely. But grateful players recognize the opportunity it gives them to demonstrate their skills and test their limits. They consider it a gift to play immersed in passion, and in front of people who are engaged and watching them. Grateful players appreciate the meaning that pressure gives their experience. They look around and are thankful for the challenge that is being given to them. Grateful players see pressure as a privilege.

Grateful players do not rely on winning.Because they are so focused on a great process and appreciate intense competition, the joy of grateful players is not dependent on winning. They realize there’s more to winning than a trophy.  Of course, they play to win, but they also appreciate their process, the competition and the challenge.

Grateful players let go. When it’s time to train and play, it is pursued with purpose, intention and efficiency. Grateful players work hard with intention, but they also embrace their time away from training and competition, being sure to enjoy and be thankful for all parts of their lives.

Next: In part three, our series concludes with practical tips on how to become a grateful polo player.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A world-class Human Performance Coach for athletes, executives and artists, former professional athlete and current bestselling Author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscles to Perform Better and Achieve More, John understands how athletes think and feel. He’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. He is trusted by a wide range of clients including some of world’s leading professional and amateur athletes. John coaches professional equestrians and up-and-comers with a proven system generating measurable results for clients. He has certifications in psychology, neuroscience, emotional intelligence and coaching. 

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