How to Develop a Mindset of Greatness

Written by VersusFri Dec 02 2022
How to Develop a Mindset of Greatness

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Every athlete you look up to has developed a mindset of greatness. And it’s this mindset that enables them to do the work, every day, to stay in their ideal performance zone.

Ashlyn Harris breaks down how to get into your ideal performance zone by mastering mindset

If you’ve ever had a game, week, or season where you performed at a higher than average level, then struggled to back it up—this article is for you.

As athletes, we all know that consistency is important. It’s the bedrock of athletic success. Yet ironically, consistency is something that’s often left to chance

We hope we’ll turn it up at tryouts and make the team. We hope the pressure won’t get to us in the playoffs and impact our performance. And we hope that the hot streak from the last few games will continue.

Well, here at Versus, we’re all for positive thinking. But we believe that your athletic career deserves more than just hope.

To consistently perform at your best, you need a solid plan for how you are going to show up in peak physical and mental condition every single day.

A big part of this is having a great training routine with high-quality drills. Our roster of elite athletes and world-class coaches has you covered there, with tons of expert advice on every skill in soccer, softball, and baseball.

But to actually get through the training. To do the work every day. Then apply what you’ve learned in game and keep making adjustments to get better. You must master your mindset. 

Every athlete you look up to has developed a mindset of greatness. And it’s this mindset that enables them to do the work, every day, to stay in their ideal performance zone.

Fortunately, a winning mentality is something that can be learned. And we’ve got a true expert to show you exactly how.

A Master of the Mental Game

Iconic U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper, Ashlyn Harris, is an ideal mentor for any athlete who wants to master their mental game. 

She has competed at the highest levels of soccer since high school. Finishing her U-19 career with a record 39 international caps—more than any other U.S. player. 

In 2013, a few years into her club career, Harris made her debut for the United States Women’s National Team. Then, was a member of the championship-winning teams at the 2015 & 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Ashlyn broke the National Women’s Soccer League all-time saves record in 2021 while playing for Orlando Pride. She is currently the goalkeeper for Gotham FC.

In collaboration with other U.S. soccer legends, Kelley O’Hara, Ali Krieger, and renowned technical coach, David Copeland-Smith, Harris has partnered with Versus to produce a complete soccer training program.

The team has recorded exclusive video training sessions on topics like:

Plus, they have cataloged answers to over 800 questions spanning 30 topics, that you can access instantly through our advanced conversational AI-based technology.

Learning directly from our athletes is as simple as selecting, “Talk to Ashlyn,” and then asking a question like, “How do you calm your nerves?” Just seconds later, you will get Harris’ response.  

Getting access to this game changing coaching and mentoring is easy. All you have to do is choose a plan, download the Versus app, and start learning.

To give you an idea of the content that’s available through a subscription, here is a summary of the main points from Ashlyn’s video on how to develop a mindset of greatness.

Mentality Is a Choice

“My mentality every day to navigate in life is a choice,” states Harris. “When I wake up, I choose to be great at everything I do because that’s the mentality shift I want to carry with me. I always want to evolve. I always want to be better.”

Now. Don’t mistake Ashlyn’s statement about mentality being a choice with her saying it’s easy, or even simple. It’s not. And as the video unfolds, she reveals just how much effort she puts into developing a mindset of greatness each day.

But as with all skills in soccer, Harris explains that, “Mentality is something that can be taught over time—with the right people, the right understanding, and the right tools.”

A player might display a natural talent for a particular skill or area of their chosen sport (including mindset). Yet to become a “one percent-er,” you will need to make a conscious choice to continue refining your skills.

“The mindset of greatness is a practiced art,” Ashlyn concludes. “And you can’t forget that.”   

Finding Your Ideal Performance Zone

Harris uses a unique method to optimize her mindset that she calls finding her “ideal performance zone.”

“What works for me may not work for you,” she states. “But you have to try to figure out what makes you tick at your highest peak performance. What gets you into your ideal performance zone?”

For Ashlyn, finding (and staying in) her ideal performance zone involves a comprehensive system of adding positive inputs to get the most out of her body and mind. At the same time, she’s also taking steps to protect herself from the negative inputs that can impact her performance.

Harris stresses the importance of harnessing your mental ability to shield yourself during hard times. Stating that,

“It’s important to sharpen your toolbox and mentally prepare for the really difficult situations that impact performance. That’s the hardest thing you’ll ever learn to conquer, because it’s so easy to carry your personal life into your professional life.”

To give you a head start on leveling up your mindset game, let’s take a look at what Ashlyn Harris does to stay in her ideal performance zone.

Several of these topics have been covered in more depth by our Versus athletes and coaches, so we’ll link to other articles for you to go deeper where relevant. 

Positive Self Talk

“I love positive self talk,” states Ashlyn. “One of the best things I grasped as a kid is standing in front of the mirror and speaking words into existence.”

In the video, Harris explains how positive self talk is super important for athletes who play vulnerable and isolated positions, like a goalkeeper. So it’s no surprise that legendary softball pitcher, Jennie Finch, also gives similar advice.

In her article on How to Battle Fear and Anxiety, Jennie describes how she regularly uses empowering thoughts to drown out, “That negative voice inside my head.”

Positive self talk might involve repeating mantras or positive affirmations throughout the day and in high-pressure situations. Some athletes also incorporate positive self talk into journaling practice or goal setting exercises. In one of her mindset training sessions, Amanda Lorenz, arguably one of the best hitters in professional softball, shared that she writes herself uplifting messages on her bathroom mirror.

Whatever you choose, the goal is to shift attention from negative thoughts, by focusing your attention on positive and empowering messages.  


“Visualization is something I do every night,” explains Harris. “As I lay my head down to sleep, it’s so important for me to view myself in certain positions. That way, when I’m actually in it, I feel comfortable because I’ve already been there.”

In short, visualization, also known as imagery, or imagining success, is the process of creating a mental image of an action, outcome, or event through detailed imagining and memory recall. It is a well-established tool for performance enhancement in many athletic domains. And is considered mandatory training for any athlete who wants to optimize their mindset. 

If you’re new to visualization, check out our guide on How to Use Visualization to Improve Athletic Performance. It’s a surprisingly easy skill to pick up that can come with some big benefits.

Mind & Body

Three decades of mental health research have proven that the mind and body are linked. But for athletes—the standard advice to exercise more for an improved mental state doesn’t really apply. 

Athletes are already active enough, so physiological mindset gains are more likely to come from areas like diet, stress reduction, and improved sleep.

Harris doesn’t give specific advice on diet in the video. But she states that she pays close attention to what she eats on the days when she performs well, then tries to replicate and dial that in on a regular basis.

She also does breathing exercises before every game to help herself think clearly.

“I know I’m emptying everything else in my life that I can’t control,” Ashlyn explains. “I empty it so I don’t carry any type of extra baggage with me.”

We’ve previously covered How Meditation Can Help Your Athletic Performance. Plus, you can check out Amanda Lorenz’s session on Training the Body for some tips on nutrition and performance.    

Other People’s Business

“The younger generation has a lot more pressure and eyes on them than I did as a kid,” states Ashlyn. “I feel that with social media and everyone having a voice behind a keyboard to tell you what they think about you is really, really heavy.”

Harris doesn’t have an easy solution to this challenge. She acknowledges that it’s hard not to let people’s negative comments affect you when you have a less than perfect game. But she explains that it is an aspect of mindset that must be learned.

The approach Ashlyn uses is to identify the core problem—letting other people’s opinions affect how you think about yourself—then work on it every day. 

Harris recognizes her personal tendency to focus on the few negative, rather than mainly positive comments on social media and continually reminds herself not to carry around other people’s opinions.

Fellow female athletes, Jennie Finch and Amanda Lorenz give similar advice. Amanda stresses the importance of managing who gets your attention on social media, by unfollowing anyone who makes you feel, “Stressed, down, or yuck.” 


“You have to be confident,” states Ashlyn. “I have to be so calm, cool, and collected that people question even stepping into my box. That is my world. That is my war zone. It’s my home and I have to own it.”

Every athlete on our roster addresses confidence in their mindset sessions. 

If you want a good place to start learning, Ashlyn Harris’ wife, teammate, and fellow 2 x World Cup winner, Ali Krieger, recently gave a masterclass on confidence in her session on Winning the Mental Game in Soccer.

Krieger's advice for staying confident centers around regularly asking yourself the magic question: “What can I control?” Which will usually be your training, work ethic, preparation, thoughts, and behaviors. Then doubling down on that—while blocking out everything else.

This theme of achieving confidence through action by “doing the work” is common among most of the athletes we interview. They don’t leave confidence up to chance and hope for the best. The best athletes in the world cultivate confidence by knowing that every single day, they are doing everything possible to put themselves in the best position to succeed.


Train Mindset Like Any Other Skill

Mindset work in sport has a reputation for being complicated and difficult to learn, leading to many athletes and coaches neglecting this essential area of skill development.

And it’s true, compared to many fundamental sports specific skills, there is less clarity and agreement on how to train mindset.

But at Versus, we’re working to change that. 

By bringing together some of the greatest minds in sport, we have been producing detailed guides that athletes of any background can use to develop a game winning mentality.

As Ashlyn Harris states in the session we covered today—you might need to pick and choose the mindset advice that best aligns with your individual needs and goals. And of course, it will take some work and dedication.

But one thing that is becoming abundantly clear as we interview more of the world’s top athletes and coaches, iis that there are simple, field tested protocols for improving mindset that can be used by anyone.

One of the best we’ve come across so far is Harris’ framework for finding your ideal performance zone, which we covered in this article.

By utilizing this unique process, you can systematically identify areas of training, lifestyle, and mentality that help you get into a state of peak performance. Then, train these areas as you would any other skill—to build your own mindset of greatness.

To get access to the full video training session this article is based on. Plus tons more exclusive content from our team of elite athletes and world-class coaches. Choose a plan, download the app, and start learning. 

Versus has everything you need to get better at soccer, all on an easy to use digital platform that's accessible anywhere.

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Fernando Tatis Jr

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