How to Increase Mental Fortitude: Secrets from an Olympian

How to Increase Mental Fortitude: Secrets from an Olympian

Dan Steele

Dan Steele was an American bobsledder and track and field athlete who competed from the early 1990s to 2002. He competed in two Winter Olympics, where he won the bronze medal in the four-man event at Salt Lake City in 2002. Dan was also one of the most successful collegiate track and field coaches in America.  Sadly, Dan no longer coaches as he suffered a serious stroke in 2017.

Our guest today is very inspirational, Dan Steele was an excellent decathlete and an Olympic bronze medalist in Bobsleigh.  He was also one of the most successful collegiate track and field coaches in America.  In this episode, we discuss his journey, some obstacles that he overcame along the way as an athlete.  Psychological strategies that he used to keep himself going in difficult times were also touched on and how he overcame fears.  Dan also goes on to share some great advice for coaches of any sport, to get the most from their athletes.

Key Takeaways include:

  • Physical size as a youngster shouldn’t be a hinderance with the right mindset.
  • The mental side of the decathlon is very important, being able to remain calm after poor results in events.
  • Your internal self talk is hugely powerful.
  • I’d see competing and tight finishes as exciting.
  • Bobsleigh was a like riding a crazy rollercoaster where you wondered if you’d die at the end of it.
  • As a coach, being open minded immersing yourself in learning will help you get the most from your coaching abilities and from your athletes.
  • Being honest with yourself as an athlete is vital.
  • Performance anxiety and mental health are two very different things and can get confused.

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Helpful Podcast Episodes

Podcast Ep033: Aly Dixon – Mental Toughness Lessons from a World Champion

Podcast Ep046: Kate Mackay – Why Snowboarding is a Metaphor for Life

Podcast Ep048: Natalie Hurdley – How to Build Mental Toughness through Powerlifting

Podcast Ep066: Marilyn Okoro – Mental Health and Resilience: Lessons from an Olympic Medalist

Other Useful Resources 

Blog – Make Better Decisions to Help Your Sport Performance

Blog – Coach Development: Helping Athletes Overcome Fear of Failure

Blog – Do You Really Want to Succeed

Blog – 12 Reasons Why You Won’t Achieve Your Potential



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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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