A motto founded by the British SAS, describes the mindset required to win when confronted with a formidable adversary. One thing I regret from my time in the military was not having a crack at “selection.” I chose another pathway which had its own challenges but unfortunately took this opportunity away.
Despite this I was afforded other opportunities to interact with Special Forces personnel and I got a sniff of what made these guys tick and an insight into the “Who Dares Wins” philosophy. The simplest way to explain it is like an air of supreme confidence which to the uneducated would seem like arrogance. But it’s the type of confidence that comes from absolutely knowing that you have the physical, technical and most importantly mental capabilities that are unmatched. It’s the latter capability that if trained can take a good soldier and in our instance, athlete, into and excellent one. It’s all about finding that next ‘gear.’
I believe that everyone has that ‘next’ gear but you only find it when two ingredients exist. The first is an extreme situation and the second is a deep desire to succeed. The SAS are the specialists at creating this recipe and have been known to use one technique called the ‘sickening’ to create such an extreme situation. Essentially it’s a group activity with an indefinite time limit involving asphyxiation through holding your breath under water, repeatedly, intense physical exercise and mind play. The objective of which is to force candidates to quit until only a handful remain. It’s a raw activity that separates the wheat from the chaff. As a triathlon coach we call this the ‘shock’ macrocycle.
Now I would love to do this to athletes however in the sporting world you also need athletes injury free so they can continue training and racing. So a as a coach we follow a more gentle slope involving gradual progression of volume and intensity until athletes are strong enough to undergo a ‘shock’ cycle. On first appearances ‘shock’ cycles just look like massive volume weeks but their main purpose is to test the resilience and determination of an athlete much like the ‘sickening.’ You will quickly tell how serious an athlete is if they can pull off one of these.
Afterwards the athlete will know how to switch on that next gear and come race day will have the confidence to dare themselves to achieve new levels of performance.