Mindset Development: Making Quick Decisions On and Off the Field

Learn to make good decisions more quickly with a military tool called the OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

Simply being athletic does not win you that college scholarship you've been dreaming of or guarantee you a spot in the pros. Sure, pure talent may get you noticed, but smart athletes realize that being competitive is not just about talent. To be a competitive athlete, you must create an ultimate mindset development plan that will help you stay focused on your journey to success.

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Creating Your Plan

In order to gain an edge over your opponents, you must learn how to teach your body to react without thinking. One way you can do this is to put yourself in as many stressful situations as you can, then teach your body to adapt under stressful loads.

A four-point military decision-making tool called the OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) can help you size up situations and make decisions more quickly both on and off the field.


A quarterback must be able to analyze as much information as possible, then adjust appropriately to make a successful play. The observation method allows you to look for any unforeseen circumstances and adapt.

In this phase, the more information you can collect, the more accurate your perception will be. Developing strong environmental awareness is a huge factor for success. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What is going on around you, and how will it affect your judgment?
  • What indirectly affects your decision-making process?
  • Were your predictions accurate?


Everyone at some point reacts to situations based upon experience. But when you start to doubt yourself or default to a previous pattern, your mind clogs up and you alter the decision-making process. The quicker you learn to size up and orient yourself to stressful situations, the faster you can move through the decision-making loop. Learning how to adapt and overcome obstacles during unfamiliar scenarios will give you an advantage over your opponents.


Sometimes the worst decision is making no decision at all. Being a leader both on and off the field requires you to make decisions on the fly and adapt where needed.


Here, you put into action what you know, then cycle back to the observation stage. Actions influence everything you do, and you must learn how to get better from everything you do.

Putting It All Together

The OODA Loop is not a see-all be-all method to mental toughness and success. Its goal is to increase the speed of your decision-making process so you can make better plays. By using this method, you can teach your body how to make smooth and direct transitions between what you observe, how you interpret it, and what you do about it.

If you force your body to make decisions rapidly, you can take advantage of opportunities your competition hasn't had the chance to act upon. Of course, certain scenarios require a longer term thought process, but the OODA Loop is a great tool in your toolbox.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Turn Mental Toughness Into Physical Toughness

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