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Football Player Kelley O’Hara Reveals the ‘Life-Altering’ Mindset Change That Has Helped Her Attain Success

During the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, Kelley O’Hara, a member of the US Women’s National Team, experienced intense anxiety and self-questioning. She wondered why she wasn’t being given the opportunity to play, when her coach would sideline her, and whether she was truly competent.

However, she eventually came to a realization: Seeking approval from the team’s management wouldn’t make her feel like the footballer she aspired to be and knew she was. She understood that her confidence had to stem from within herself.

At that moment, she made a firm decision to mentally and physically prepare as though she were going to play every single minute. She pledged to give her best, regardless of external circumstances. This dedication led to her being selected for the semi-finals and finals, ultimately contributing to her team’s triumph. O’Hara attributes her accomplishment to the shift in her mindset. She emphasizes the importance of finding motivation internally rather than externally.

“Discovering that self-assurance internally and acknowledging and gaining that competency from oneself is somewhat transformative,” reflects O’Hara. “If I hadn’t undergone that mental transformation, I doubt I would have attained the success I did at that World Cup.”

The field of sports psychology also distinguishes between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation originates from within, prompting one to engage in physical activity or performance out of personal desires such as feeling good or improving sleep quality. In contrast, extrinsic motivation is derived from external factors like winning accolades or receiving recognition from others.

O’Hara recognizes the significance of receiving validation from authoritative figures and peers. Winning is also a motivating factor for her. Nonetheless, she believes that developing self-esteem forms the foundation for future achievements.

Establishing your motivation is essential to reaching that level. That’s why O’Hara has teamed up with a new digital sports coaching and motivational platform, Versus. The platform provides professional athletes and coaches like O’Hara with a space to share experiences and advice from the professional sports world while fostering a supportive community.

According to O’Hara, possessing both elements—inner strength and external encouragement—are paramount for personal growth.

“Support networks are fantastic, invaluable, and critical for flourishing in the world,” emphasizes O’Hara. “But you must cultivate that self-belief before seeking external validation.”

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