How to build a champion’s mindset from Olympic golfer Yuka Saso

Whether in the game of life or sports, it’s vital to have a strong and healthy mind and body to overcome challenges. Just take, for example, 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese professional golfer Yuka Saso, who has also had her fair share of struggles on her journey to becoming a top player.

In 2021, she experienced one of the toughest moments of her career when she injured her neck on the third day of her British Open competition, one of the world’s four major golf tournaments. She had to power through the pain and its effect on her performance, but instead of being deterred by this incident, it made her realize the importance of taking care of her physical and mental health.

As an athlete, Saso shares her own learnings and experiences from golf, which is touted by experts as a highly mental sport, in the hopes that it might also help others develop the mental strength to withstand stress and pressure:

Be consistent. Many people thrive on consistency and a regular schedule because it gives them an idea on what to expect, making it easier to anticipate possible challenges. This is also true for Saso. “I want my golf to be consistent – even if I don’t win – as long as I’m in that range, like in top 20, then I feel good about it,” she said, adding that a healthy routine helps, too. “I keep my eating habit healthy and make sure I sleep well, which I think is really important so my body can recover better.”

Love what you do. Discovering your passions and doing something that you love may bring meaning to your life and help you feel fulfilled. Saso advised, “Build confidence.Believe in your job and love it. Because I love my job, I work hard to get my golf better. If you love your job,you’ll have confidence and work better. Just remember why you chose the job. Find your passion.”

Focus on the positive. For Saso, having fun and thinking positively builds confidence.  “In golf, it’s not really about physical strength. It’s all about having the right mindset. I try to think positively or focus on the present, stay present, and not to look too far because you can’t control your future or your past. You can only control what’s happening in the present, so I’m probably just focused on what I have to do now so that I can perform in the future.”

Look for a good support team. Saso ensures that she is surrounded by a strong support system that shares the same values as her. If I have good support from the people around me, then I can play golf better.” This year, she became the official partner of leading global insurer AXA because she resonates with the brand’s “Know You Can” brand signature, which is rooted in the understanding that confidence is essential for people to successfully achieve their goals.

As a professional athlete, it’s important for Yuka Saso to keep building up both her physical and mental strength. With her advice, we can also start taking steps to prioritize our own in order to keep wellness going on the road to a long and happy life.

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