John Danaher: “An Athlete Must See Through The Illusion Of Competition”

John Danaher: “An Athlete Must See Through The Illusion Of Competition”

Do you get nervous before competition? That’s to be expected – after all, you want to put on a good performance and for the hard work you’ve invested to pay off.
But what if everything else… If all of the lights, all the crowd, and all the usual hype – were just an illusion?

As per John Danaher, this is exactly true. He explained why in an interview with Lex Fridman:

Most people see training and competition as two different things. Training is “normal activity” that you do every day. And competition is the exception; you go out and people are watching you, there’s a big crowd, they’re making a lot of noise…
In fact, promoters of shows go out of their way to reinforce this.

However, it’s much more simple than that:

It’s just a grappling match. It’s just two athletes, a referee, and the ruleset. That’s the reality.
Now, what they’re trying to sell you is something that isn’t a reality – that “this” is somehow bigger and different.

For Danaher, his task is to get his athletes to see through this illusion of competition:

My job as a coach is to dispel that. And say: “When you go out there, there’s only one reality: you, him, and the referee who is reinforcing the ruleset. That’s it. Everything else you see; the smoke, the fire, the music… Is an illusion. And it’s put there intentionally to make you feel a certain kind of way.”

“Your whole goal is to see it as an illusion – and walk out and see only the reality. Which is that this is the same damn thing you do every day in the gym. The only difference is that you’re going in with a guy you’ve never grappled before.”