The difference between winning or placing well and not doing so good can be summed up with just one word: attitude!

If your attitude is confident, calm and determined, if you know you belong in this field of seasoned anglers and if you genuinely expect to win, you mentally put yourself in position to come out on top. However, if you do not have a confident winning attitude, everyone else will have to do poorly in order for you to finish first. Let’s look at how the attitude of a winner and the attitude of other participants differ over the course of a tournament.
Pre-tournament preparation

Creating a winning attitude starts well before the tournament day. In the weeks leading up to a tournament, a good angler will think through current, past and pending weather conditions, water conditions and fish migration patterns. They are not so much worried about finding where the fish are today, there more interested in figuring out where the fish will be, or where they will be going during the course of a tournament. A good angler knows that conditions can change quickly and they also know that changes in wind, water levels and current can have a great effect on where the active fish can be found.

Understanding more importantly, not to focus their preparation on finding some fish; But instead, they orient themselves to learn the kind of fish it will take to win the tournament. In addition, a good tournament anglers attitude must include a sense of good confidence. Confidence that you belong in this tournament and have a genuine chance of winning it.

Many new competitors, especially in the early stages of their tournament ventures, began with a “happy to be here” attitude. This often includes a feeling of inferiority, of being one down from the “seasoned pros”. Ive seen some newer competitors even get a little, so to say, star struck by the the more popular anglers, creating an instant attitude embedment that will make it hard to ever beat the pros. In addition, a less-than-winning, confident attitude almost always includes a focus on finding enough fish to come to the weigh-in and not be embarrassed.

Anglers who stress the night before the tournament, that worry, hope and pray that the few fish they found in practice will still be there tomorrow and that they will be able to catch them, will have already doomed themselves to fail do to there anxiety emotions. And performance psychology studies shows that anxious people will generally make short-sighted decisions. This fishing-not-to-lose attitude is not good and it will show in there performance at the end of the day.


Most tournament anglers have experienced that gut-wrenching feeling on tournament morning when the fish that were there yesterday are now magically gone or inactive. At that point, most of us have a hard time refocusing, reviewing our options and going back to the search mode that allowed us to find those fish in the first place. A good angler on the other hand, will have confidently anticipated that the fish might move, and they would have also developed back up plans A, B, C, and D anticipating movements and where they may have gone and how they might be caught today.

Fears of failure
Performance pychology can interfere with developing a genuine winning attitude. Fear of failure is just one emotion that can keep an angler from possibly doing there best. Anyone who has experienced any form of competition is familiar with the tension and apprehension that go with wanting to do your best to win while, at the same time, stressing about doing poorly, worrying about over-sleeping on tournament day, or forgetting basic skills and making embarrassing, foolish mistakes.

Anglers with confident, winning attitudes may still experience some game-day jitters, though once competition begins, they typically experience an attitudinal transformation that would-be winners do not. True winners will find the “ZONE” and focus primarily on doing their very best in the moment. They are skilled at pushing the final outcome to the back of their minds while they are competing.

Compare this to the attitude of anglers who repeatedly recalculate the size of the fish they have in the tank, fret about the fish they’ve missed and worry about how much time is left to upgrade their weight.

Fear of successAnother aspect to performance psychology can be the fear of success. What i mean is this: If you win today, then you set up for the expectation that you have to win next time, and that type of emotions can create a lot of performance anxiety also, but in reality, nobody wins all the time. Anglers with winning attitudes know that first and foremost, whether they place 10th or 59th, what they did today has no real bearing on what happens tomorrow. They start each day with the same “I will to do my best! A I expect to do the best” attitude.

So the next time you open your tackle box to do inventory before your tournament, check out your attitude about winning and see if there isn’t some room for improvement there