Bob Bowman characteristics of champions

Bob Bowman – Characteristics of Champions (Video)

Bob Bowman, head coach of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, and Michael Phelps’ long time coach, shares what he believes are the core characteristics of champions, whether in the pool, the field, or the boardroom.

In this 18 minute speech given for Chicago Ideas Week, Bowman talks about what it is to be successful. He shares some anecdotes about Phelps, his development from a precocious 12 year old, and the planning process that took Phelps from being an age-grouper to the most successful Olympian of all time.

Some of the highlights:

  • Physical characteristics are not as important as what is going on in the
  • Champions welcome challenges. A lot of what happens in the course of becoming a successful athlete are associated with failure. What we see on television during a gold-medal winning race is simply the end product of a pile of failures and setbacks.
  • Champions produce predictable performances in unpredictable circumstances.
  • Champions practice success on a daily basis on an emotional, physical and mental level. The process is more important than the outcome. The process is controllable, the outcome is largely dependent on what others are doing.
  • Champions have a dream. They are passionate about what they want. The dream ignites the creative process.
  • Champions make the correct decisions on a daily basis.
  • The importance of goal setting. Not only long term goals, but the more immediate, short term goals

Perhaps the quote that sticks out in terms of chasing your goals is—

What are you going to do right now?


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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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