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How I Became a Professional Athlete

What is success, and how is it measured? What is failure, and how is that measured? Are failure and success based on end results, or is it process-oriented? These are crucial questions to consider for athletes, coaches, sports parents, and performance psychology professionals.


I was a freshman in High School when I first was introduced to the opportunity of playing basketball for a college in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my home in Sweden. Fast-forwarding a few years, I was now a sophomore in college basketball at a University in Florida. I had reached one of my goals, going to college, yet I felt like this constant pressure of failing was shadowing me around.

Fear of failure is one of the most common mental barriers experienced by athletes and performers in all sports and across performance domains. I was one of those athletes, worried about not reaching my fullest potential and limiting myself to achieve peak performance, which in turn became a mental block. However, when I stepped outside my comfort zone and faced the fact that it is okay to fail, I started reaching my goals. I found that many of the challenges and obstacles prepared me for far bigger challenges than I ever experienced or accomplished throughout my athletic career until now.

So, to perform at a high level and succeed, I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone and overcome my fears. Doing that required that I put things in perspective and change my mental approach to the game. Hence, I kept putting myself in situations that were challenging and focused on the process rather than worrying about the end results. I replaced the unrealistic expectations and demands with process goals or manageable objectives that help athletes focus on what they need to do in the present moment to succeed.

Failure and success are a matter of perspective and opinion. Each can be measured in several different ways. Therefore, I decided to start writing my very own sports psychology blog after I graduated from college. My passion for learning, researching, and sharing my knowledge to help guide other athletes in their desired direction is limitless.

Moreover, success can only be measured by the number of challenges overcome in pursuit of your goals. Even though I won the conference tournament three out of four times in college with my team, the path we took to get there and the challenges we overcame each year – learning, gaining experience, and connecting holds the most value.

My Mental Training Tips

When placing unrealistic expectations and demands on your performance and too much value on the final score and end results, you are only setting yourself up for failure. That type of perfectionist mindset will often burn an athlete out. In the pursuit of success, I was on that path. After my second year of college, I was tired of basketball, and I dreaded going to practice, but I was able to persevere and focus on the present when I found my WHY. My WHY came to represent the reason I live and play basketball.

I discovered my WHY the hard way, but it does not always have to be like that. A WHY is supposed to have a deeper meaning, and sometimes it can take a long time to discover. However, the important thing is to keep learning about yourself, reading relevant books to your personal goals in life, studying people who inspire you. Eliminate time-wasters, implement a positive and healthy mindset, and the rest will sort itself out after that. My WHY became the #1 strategy, and to this day, it helps me get through obstacles in life, discover your WHY by answering these questions:

  • What/who makes you come alive?

  • Why do you believe that you exist?

  • Why do you do what you do?

  • What inspires you to complete your tasks better?

  • What is your interior strength?

  • What is your existing purpose?

  • What are your greatest accomplishments?

  • What/who drives you to get through challenges?

  • What/who makes you want to wake up every morning?

- Emma Karamovic


About the Author

Besides being a professional basketball player I enjoy to travel, write and read so I chose to create a blog about sports psychology and mental toughness because it has helped me tremendously over the past 6-7 years from high school, through college and now to being a professional athlete. I have learned how to tackle problems, effectively use sport psychology techniques and strategies to build a productive and healthy mind.

Therefore, I want to share what I have learned, what works for me and how my way of using sport psychology every single day might help you as well. The most critical questions I would like to answer in my blog is how to start, maintain and develop positive thinking, as well as mental toughness. For more insight in my daily life follow me on social media!

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