How To Learn From Last Year

Sports Psychology Tips: How To Learn From Last Year

Set aside some time to reflect

It’s nearly the end of the year.  Have you sat back and reflected on what you have accomplished in the past 12 months? 

This is a great time to do it, as well as planning and plotting what you want next year to look like.

What did you achieve and what WILL you do differently moving forward? Do you chart your progress with statistics to help you?

I’m going to help you in this blog with 15 step by step exercises for you to follow.  While working through these exercises please take a pen and paper.  It is a comprehensive guide so if you’re serious about the new year I’d advise you to switch your phone off and give yourself a good 2 hours to work your way through this guide.  It will be well worth it and help you get VERY clear on where you are going.

Reviewing Your Year


Make a note of your small wins throughout the year.  And your really big wins – what were they?  What are you most proud about from your achievements? What times in the year just gone were you playing to your maximum?  

2. Feeling Great

What did it feel like when you succeeded? What would people on the side lines have noticed about you when you were on top form?  How did you celebrate your wins?

3. Enjoyment

What did you enjoy the most in your sport last year? Was it the day to day training? The banter or learning new skills? The relationships that you’ve formed and built?  How about competing or overcoming some challenges that you had?  Enjoying the sporting journey is essential for you to compete at a high level for a long period of time.

4. Failure

Many people will skip this part because it isn’t nice to think about your failures.  But believe me this is an essential exercise if you want to kick on next year.  If you want to achieve your potential you MUST be honest with yourself.  When did you fail?  When did you not give 100%? When did you give up? When did you say that you would do something but didn’t? 

5. Regrets

Do you have any regrets about the way you went about things last year? Did you wish you had tried something else? Did you wish that you had stuck with something that may have come off if you’d have given it more time? If you’d spent more time doing…………. would your chance of success been better? Did you pass up any opportunities?  Did you address some mental blocks? Again, this isn’t likely to be a pleasant experience answering these questions however it can help you learn from your mistakes.

6. Learning

Assuming that you’ve got this far, I’d imagine that you now have learned some lessons.  The most successful people, athletes and coaches with mental toughness are skilled at learning lessons and not repeating them – be one of them.  So what did last year teach you in your sport and away from your sport?  Answer this question, tell someone you trust about your answers and ensure that they keep you to account so that you don’t go on to repeat these mistakes next year.

7. Different

Controlling the controllables is a phrase which is often used in sport.  This is what we’re trying to teach you here.  Not to play the blame game – attributing issues or problems to other people or circumstances.  What are you going to take control of and do differently next year? Will this be your attitude? Your focus? How you communicate with yourself and others?

8. Continue

There will be some good stuff in the last year.  Even for those who have had a torrid year.  You’ll simply need to look a little bit harder.  What worked well for you? What are you going to continue doing?  

9. More

Are there some additional things that you need to be doing with your time?  Are you doing enough extra’s to make sure that you succeed?  Or do you need to be doing more with your downtime to recharge your batteries and get away from your sport?

10. Stop

What things WILL you stop doing next year? What bad habits have you got yourself into? 

11. Start

When you consider the bad habits that you’ve got yourself into.  And you will have, we all do! How are you going to step in?

What are you going to start doing to replace unhelpful habits with more positive processes and routines?

12. Position

When you reviewed last year’s ”big” goals how did you do?  What is the position of these goals NOW? Are you still aiming for a top 10 tour or championship finish after failing miserably?  Or did you reach those goals, perhaps over exceeding your expectations?  Do you need to do a compete reset of last years goals? 

13. New 

So now that you’ve spent a good hour or so working through these exercises I’d like you to place yourself one year ahead and think seriously about what you’d like to tell people that you achieved in the previous year?  These goals could be completely new or a modification of old ones.  What would be wins for you when you compete? What about in training or practice?  Would you like to achieve more in the gym? Do you want your lifestyle to change? Do you need to shake things up with your coaches?

14. Emotions

To help you visualise the new year being a success I’d like you to make a note of what emotions that you WILL feel when you achieve some of the different goals.  How will you feel? How will you celebrate? What type of conversations will you be having with coaches, team-mates, friends, family? What will the press have to say about you when you succeed? Who will you thank for helping you achieve your goals for the year?

15. Vision

To go one step further, you could even get yourself a large sheet of paper or card and make a vision board.  Drawing pictures, sticking photos of trophies or medals.  Writing key words, inspiring quotes or phrases. Cutting out newspapers or magazine titles to add to the experience.  

If you’re reading this bit after setting the time aside, I applaud you for taking the time to reflect on the previous year and to plan for a successful new year.  Not many people will take this amount of time and work through things so strategically.  The majority will set new year resolutions and forget about them by the end of January – don’t be one of them – give yourself the best possible chance of making the next year your best year!

By working alongside myself or one of your coaches the exercise will be much more powerful so feel free to get in touch if you’d like some support.  

Best of luck too for the new year! I really look forward to hearing about some of the changes that you’ve now made and to hear about some of your successes in the future.

Or if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches. 

You can also join our community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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