The Psychological Profile of a Champion

“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat and at the point of exhaustion,
when nobody else is looking.” 
–Anson Dorrance

A champion is special. He is elevated on his team, but for the right reasons. Although champions are rare, they are distinct. Once you have spent time with your team and pay attention to your fellow athletes are are as leaders, you will find that they are one of two types: A want-to-be or a champion.

Here are the qualities of both:

The Psychological Profile of a Want-To-Be: 

  • No Drive. A Want-To-Be can’t see the benefits in hard, grueling practices. He can’t push through challenges and does not care if he wins or loses.
  • Know-It-All. He fails to listen to authority and cannot accept changes and new ideas. He tends to make excuses.
  • He is racked with self-doubt and cannot place enough confidence in himself to complete a task. He does not know how to compete because he is too hard on himself.
  • Watcher. If there is an accident or mistake, he won’t take ownership. He doesn’t want a part in anything monumental, because he is scared of making a mistake.
  • Corner Cutter. He avoids the tough parts of practices. He has an excuse for every corner he cuts, and he finds his comfort more important than future reward from hard work.
  • There is always an aching muscle or pain that prevents him from putting in the hard work that the rest of the team endures. Instead of working through pain, he wallows in it.
  • He is easily distracted from the job, but claims he is focused and prepared. When true competition comes his way, he cannot compete at full force.
  • He cannot stick it out till the finish line. He is easily discouraged and does not have a positive mindset. He is unreliable because although he starts many jobs, he finishes few.

A champion is the polar opposite of a want-to-be, and he demonstrates his strengths through example and work ethic.

The Psychological Profile of a Champion

  • A champion sets the bar high each day. He hates losing and will sacrifice comfort and free time to reach a goal.
  • He is easy to coach and finds instruction helpful and fulfilling.
  • He is the “first place belongs to me” type. He does not take no for an answer, but instead fights until the word “no” becomes a “yes.”
  • He shows the way and sets a good example. He does not ask for power, but graciously leads through his example and support to others on his team.
  • Take-Charge Guy. He will take over when things go wrong. He is not afraid to deal with challenges and will own up to mistakes and not flee from issues.
  • Hard worker. He is one of the first people at practice and one of the last to leave. He does not cut corners and puts in the work to compete at the highest level possible.
  • Mental toughness. He never gives in, even when it’s tempting. He can focus in the right moments and has no excuses for pain or discomfort.
  • Psychological endurance. He will stick with a job until the end. He knows his ability and strength and will only commit to something if he knows he can finish it.


A champion is rare but extremely valuable to a team unit. In the words of Anson Dorrance, “The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat and at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.” Any player can be drenched in sweat and exhausted, but a champion is someone who can do it without complaining. A champion does not make his sufferings known. He endures them, working towards the end goal of team unity and growth.


When you look at your teammates and colleagues, you will be able to discern who is a want-to-be and who is a champion through their actions and their attitudes. There is no such thing as perfect, but there is always room for improvement. When you grasp the humble character of a champion, that’s when you can begin leading your team.