Reigning world and Olympic high jump champion Derek Drouin knows how to keep his cool on the global stage. The Canadian high flyer gives some valuable tips.
The approach I always remember to take into a major championship is that it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the field has done, all you can do is try to do the best you can on that day. For me, this attitude has always given me a lot of confidence. I don’t know whether it is false-confidence, it doesn’t matter, but I always tell myself when I step on the track everyone starts the competition on an equal playing field.
My goal in each competition is to make it as tough as possible for someone to beat me. It sounds so obvious and simple, but I try to make sure I have no unnecessary misses, so if someone wants to beat me, they are going to have to jump higher than me. I try not to make it easy for my opposition.
Something that I’ve learned – a little like a stubborn teenager – is to only work on things in training that I am good at. Some may criticise this approach, but sometimes it can be really effective. I work on my strengths. I enjoy working on these and that’s what I focus on in training.
There are two schools of thought; you can try to perfect your weaknesses or you can take what you are already good at and try to perfect those. I take the latter option.
Less is more. It is so easy for people to want to do more in training because they think this will make them better, but a common theme among very successful athletes and coaches I speak with is that sometimes less quantity [in training] equals more.
The only time I have had second thoughts on this approach is when I transitioned from a college athlete to a professional athlete. I felt because I was now a full-time athlete I needed to justify this by doing more. This is just not the case.
Top tip for surviving the athletics circuit
Keep yourself busy, because as an athlete we spend a lot of time on planes and in hotel rooms. I always like to have a couple of books with me to keep my mind occupied. I like detective mysteries. I read quite a lot of Agatha Christie novels.
I have a really big sweet tooth, so I try to control this by cooking all my own meals. I’ve found as long as I get a solid three meals in – cook a healthy lunch, have breakfast and dinner – then that will usually satisfy me. I’m not really a dessert person but if there is a table of chocolate and candy….
Dress comfortably. I mostly dress in sportswear, so it is pretty easy to be comfortable.
My siblings warned me to be defensive on the road because of the need to be wary of other drivers.
When I go on holiday I like to have an even mix between sightseeing and the opportunity to relax. I find it hard to do two days in a row of one or the other. I love to see cities and architecture, but after a couple of days I like to lie on a beach for a while, so I like to pick a holiday in close proximity [to both].
Social media tip
It is such a mother thing to do, but before I post anything I say to myself, ‘would I be okay with it being on the front page of a newspaper?’. I also think, if anything could be misconstrued, I have usually put enough thought into it so that I am going to stick by what I have posted.
Spend less time talking about yourself and more about the other person. Ask questions.