Domino Effect in Sport

Bo Hanson
4x Olympian, Director, and Lead Consultant

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Why it’s more helpful to believe that moments are unconnected.

Many believe in the ‘domino effect’ as a natural force in life and subsequently, sport. It’s often referred to as the concept of ‘momentum’. The domino effect is best explained as looking at life, or sport, as a series of somehow connected events or situations. When one domino is pushed, the others all fall until the inevitable end result occurs and a thousand dominos are all lying flat.

‘Momentum’ is created in this concept – when we do one good act or make one successful play, it naturally leads to another and another and soon enough the game is won. This belief in the domino effect and momentum can no doubt be helpful. It can have us believe that our team is on a roll and success is just a matter of time. It can also have the complete opposite effect.

Here’s a recent video I recorded on this topic:

Believing in momentum makes it almost impossible to arrest a poor start or to quickly recover from a mistake. Belief in the domino effect can mean a team turns up feeling as though a great start is all that’s required to secure a win, or worse, believing that a great week of practice or previous success over an opposition, will naturally lead to today’s success. Either way, the domino effect and belief in momentum are just beliefs, neither true nor false, just beliefs. The only important question is whether believing in these two concepts is going to help you or hurt you. My personal belief is that it’s far healthier for our performance NOT to believe in the domino effect or momentum concept.


My belief is that we must push each individual domino over with intentional effort and focused technical execution. The next successful event is not going to happen because we just had a successful event now. We have to consciously recreate our success, one domino at a time. It also means that a one poor event does not signal the onset of other events with poor outcomes. There is no relationship between what just happened and what may happen.

A game of sport may contain a thousand small events which all require our attention and execution for the end result to be the result we want. When I rowed, the challenge was to lose yourself in the act of ‘now’. One stroke at a time. In every other sport, the challenge is the same. The best races I had are very detailed in my mind. I can recall individual moments, what I did to create a great outcome. This is because my attention was tuned to what I was doing in every moment.

Being present in every moment also gave me the opportunity to correct any errors, big or small, the instant that they occurred. I could recover and the crew could move on to the next successful stroke. As a result of my belief that each moment is unconnected, I didn’t dwell on mistakes, I didn’t miss one moment because I was dwelling on the previous. Nor did I just hope that the next event or domino would naturally fall and lead to the next stroke being as great as the previous stroke.


Being ATHLETE TOUGH™ is defined by the actions you take when your performance matters the most. Bo Hanson’s unique and proven program is designed to ensure your athletes never give up, never quit on their team and never quit on themselves. It will deliver strategies on how to be mentally resilient and provide step-by-step processes to help your athletes become and stay mentally strong. Find out more here.

At Athlete Assessments we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can do to be of service, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Athlete tough

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Mental toughness is not a mythical quality possessed by only a few. It is a teachable skill and there are a proven strategies to develop your athletes to be ATHLETE TOUGH.

“Being ATHLETE TOUGH is defined by the actions you take when your performance matters the most. In the heat of battle or when all seems lost, those who stay in the game are those who never lose sight of why they are in the game in the first place.”

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2 thoughts on “Domino Effect in Sport”

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