ACE Blog

How the Growth Mindset Helps Athletes

Jul 18, 2017, 14:19 PM by Natalie Stevens

startingLineAs we head into another year of athletic events in our District 6 community, this research by Dr. Carol Dweck is timely. The idea of mindset has received considerable attention in recent times. The “fixed” vs. “growth” mindset has interesting implications for athletes, and people in general. One of our goals in District 6 is to help our student-athletes approach both endeavors from the “growth” mindset perspective.

If you have a “Fixed” mindset, you count on your talent to take care of things, and if it doesn't, well then maybe you just weren't as talented as you thought. If you have a “Growth” mindset you realize that the key is to continue to work the process even when you are having success. You don't blame others or circumstances for your results.

Here's a quick way to figure out whether you are in a Fixed or Growth mindset: Anytime you feel like you're either a "somebody" or a "nobody" based on the result as opposed to the effort and strategies you are employing at your craft, you're in a Fixed mindset.


"For me, the joy of athletics has never resided in winning ... I derive just as much happiness from the process as the results. I don't mind losing as long as I see improvement or feel I've done as well as I possibly could. If I lose, I just go back to the track and work some more."
-- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic gold medal winner

Carol Dweck, the author of the book "Mindset" has done extensive research on the idea of “fixed’ and “growth” mindset. Dweck shares how having a Growth mindset can help athletes. Here were her findings:

Finding #1: Those with the Growth Mindset found success in doing their best, in learning and improving. Athletes who focus on the process (i.e. of constant improvement) and being the best that they can be, are generally the most successful.

Finding #2: Those with the Growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They're informative. They're a wake-up call. If you have a Fixed mindset your setbacks label you as a "failure" because everything is a measure of whether or not you are "talented". If you have a Growth mindset, then setbacks cause you to work harder, or come up with better strategies so you can improve.

Finding #3: People with the Growth mindset in sports took charge of the processes that bring success -- and that maintain it. As Dweck sums up, "Somebodies are not determined by whether they won or lost. Somebodies are people who go for it with all they have. If you go for it with all you have -- not just in the games, but in practice too -- you will already be a somebody."

This article came from Steve Gilbert and his blog Win Your Day!

If you are not on Steve Gilbert's Win Your Day! email list, but would like to be added, please email him at

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