How Good Is Your First Attempt?

How Good Is Your First Attempt?

Does your first attempt bare any correlation to your best attempt? Essentially, does how good you are the first time you do something give any indication of how good you could end up being at it? To try and provide some answers, this blog will look at a few examples of the greatest sporting champions in their field.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt – arguably the worlds greatest ever sprinter. Winner of 8 gold medals and world records in both the 100m and 200m. Most people can recall exactly where they were when he won gold in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Four years later, he dominated and lit up London 2012, before ending his Olympic career on a high with even more gold medals at Rio 2016.

But how did he do at his first ever Olympics? He was eliminated in the first round of the 200m, finishing with a time of 21.05 seconds (to give this some context, he later broke the world record for this event, running it in 19.19 seconds). 

Jonny Wilkinson

When most people think of Jonny Wilkinson, they think of one game. And in that one game, they tend to think of one moment. That. Drop. Goal.

But he was not always destined for greatest. What most people don’t remember is what happened on his first match that he started for England. They lost 76-0. This was their largest ever defeat. Rather than that being the end of his career, it marked the start, and as he called it ‘a blessing in disguise’. This article here explains why.

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton is one the finest ever cyclists Great Britain has ever produced. She is the winner of nine world titles and 3 Olympic medals (two of these being gold) 

So how did she do in her first Olympics? She finished sixth in her time trial and ninth in the 200m sprint.

Shane Warne

Shane Warne had one of the best and most distinguished careers as a cricketer. He is widely regarded as the best spin bowler and only one man, Muttiah Muralitharan, has taken more wickets than him ever. He also has the accolade of bowling ‘the ball of the century’:

But how did he do in his debut test series for Australia? Pretty terribly. In his first match against India, he took only one wicket for 150 runs. A few weeks later in this series, he took no wickets for 78 runs, resulting in terrible figures of 1 wicket for 228 runs. 

Final Thought – Not Just Applicable to Sport

Failure at some stage is inevitable. Often it is at the start when we have the least knowledge and skills. BUT the amount people can improve with practice is truly staggering. These before and after images from budding artists are a great example of this.

Believing that your first attempt is somehow related to your potential leads to many students saying things such as ‘I’m not a maths person’. But anyone can learn. Everyone can improve. The message from these sporting champion’s career couldn’t be clearer: you can get better.

For information about developing a growth mindset in your school take a look at our handy guide!

Students growth mindset workshop


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