How To Defeat The “Unbeatable” Opponent
You have a competition coming up (or maybe you’re in it already). You’ve worked on your game and prepared as best you could. Problem is, your bigger, stronger and faster opponent seemingly has every advantage over you.
- More experienced
- More knowledgeable
- More help/staff/personnel
Even worse, you’ve faced this opponent before and lost badly. You didn’t have much of a chance then, and you fear that you have even less of a chance now.
What can you do? Is there anything you can do, other than get your butt kicked again or lay down and quit?
Yes. Here’s how you win, even when your opponent is bigger, faster, stronger and better than you.
Understand — and Believe — that no one is invincible
Every opponent can be beaten. This doesn’t mean that they will be beaten, but your mentality starts with the belief that it can happen.
The success of the each of the above examples each began with one truth: The smaller, apparently lesser combatant believed it was possible. They believed that there was a way that this “unbeatable” opponent could be beaten. Maybe the spectators couldn’t see a way — and that’s exactly why they’re spectators. Anyone who can’t see how an opponent can be beaten is either already a spectator, or on their way to becoming one, and they’ll spend the rest of their lives in the bleachers.
You don’t step into a ring with any doubts about what you can do. Period.
Every human and entity that’s run by humans has a weakness, probably a multitude of them. But you’ll never be able to identify or exploit those weaknesses if all you can focus on is why they are so good, or why you have no chance.
Goliath’s one eye could be blinded.
Mike Tyson had grown complacent and wasn’t focused on the upcoming match.
The Warriors could be roughed up and slowed down with physical play.
While these all seem obvious now, after the fact, they weren’t so obvious until someone made them self-evident by enjoying their belief and beating the — allegedly — unbeatable.
Look at every opponent you face, regardless of their reputation, the same way: There’s a weakness in this person that I will find and exploit.
Focus on what you do well — not on your deficiencies
Whenever an athlete brings me an “unstoppable opponent” challenge, their plea is almost always 100% focused on the other guy.
How high he can jump.
How strong he is.
How many times he blocked your shot last time.
How he seems to know every more you’re about to make.
How you’ve thus far been unable to even get a clean shot off against him.
These players give me what basically amounts to glowing scouting report on the opponent and all the things that make him great. No wonder you’re losing!
After establishing the belief that you can actually win, your focus needs to be on you.
What you can do.
The skills you will be utilizing.
The reasons why you can pull this off.
The reasons why you will pull this off.
When David defeated Goliath, David’s advantage was the fact that David was an expert at using a slingshot. He could fire it while on the move, knew the speed a shot generated, and know he’d killed animals with his slingshot before. All that gave him reasons to believe he could fell the “giant” Goliath.
They’re not probing you for weakness. Take advantage of their complacency
Mike Tyson came to Japan in 1990 unfocused, undertrained, and not giving much thought to his opponent, Buster Douglas. Douglas, just like every Tyson opponent around that time, knew one thing he was guaranteed: The opportunity of a lifetime to beat the heavyweight champ in front of the world. He also knew that, should he fail at this chance, there probably wouldn’t be another chance.
Douglas put everything he had into his training for that one match, knowing it was his lottery ticket to stardom (and to his name being known forever in boxing, which it will be). Tyson was so used to knocking people out, he came to the fight expecting to do the same to Buster Douglas as Tyson had done to his previous 37 opponents. He wasn’t probing Douglas for weaknesses or hatching a strategy for beating Douglas: Mike figured he would win by merely showing up. That’s what had worked for the previous 37 bouts.
Buster Douglas left the ring as the new champion that night.
Focus is a skill. When you’re the heavy underdog to someone who’s used to winning, your opponent may regard you lightly, if at all. Don’t make a lot of noise trying to get his attention — instead, take advantage of their complacency and use that energy against them when it matter most: The performance.
Anything that bleeds or breaths can be beaten. The first step in doing so is getting your mind right around this fact logically, then accepting and applying it emotionally.
Never put your opponents — real or imagined, physical or mental — on a pedestal.