Do you spend your days running so fast you feel your legs turning into Jell-O?
Or spend hours in the weight room in order to hit a ball just a little further?
How about constantly smelling like chlorine because you choose to go another
And while you practice do you dream of upcoming games, tournaments, and championships?
Most importantly feel the burning desire to achieve?
For all dedicated athletes, here are six lessons I have learned from being just like you.
Develop Mental Toughness: if you tell yourself you will succeed, you will succeed. If you tell yourself you can push a little harder, you will. All athletes can remember a time when they made a mistake or just missed succeeding by a second or single score. But it is what you do as a result of those downfalls that makes a good athlete. Choosing to do all 10 reps instead of nine and choosing to always push through instead of only when paid attention to is mental toughness. And, it always pays off.
Protect yourself: while pushing through the basic pain is important, this does not apply to pushing through injury. If something feels hurt, it is the athlete’s responsibility to step back and take necessary precautions to fix the problem in order to not break down their body. As athletes, physical health is what allows us to participate in our beloved sports. Furthermore, when an athlete continues to play while experiencing a concussion, pulled a muscle, or other physical health risks, they are increasing their chance of limiting their athletic ability forever.
Visualize: before a competition, take a couple minutes and close your eyes and internally visualize yourself achieving. Imagine different circumstances you may encounter in order to preplan your response. This will allow you to go into competitions already having your mind focused and skills ready to perform.
Treat Mistakes as Opportunities: If you make a mistake, and do not understand where you went wrong, ask questions. Whether you are a new player or advanced player, taking advantage of mistakes when they occur is a way to quickly learn and apply new skills to your set of abilities. Asking questions is a sign of dedication and a desire to grow.
Ban “Can’t”: Don’t allow yourself the excuse of “I can’t”. Always continue setting goals in order to move forward. If a certain task seems impossible, break it down into smaller goals and work to achieve those. This way, after achieving a couple smaller goals, the larger one will seem less daunting. By banning the word “can’t” and instead always believing you can and will achieve, you will be able to surpass difficult challenges.
Remember RED: Rest, eat and drink. These three are the core values of being a successful athlete. Rest, and getting enough, can make a huge difference in energy and ability to perform. This includes both proper sleep and taking breaks when necessary between workouts. Eating, and getting important nutrients is also vital for ideal performance. Cutting back on unhealthy sugars and eating protein are two key ways to increase athletic ability. Additionally, drinking chocolate milk after your workouts, and eating carbohydrates the day before a competition are both great ways to increase energy levels in a healthy way. Finally, staying hydrated is key. To be properly hydrated individuals should have eight cups of water a day. Carrying a water bottle around during the day and hydrating often during practice is important in order to push forward and stay healthy.
Now that you know what to do, get up and get excited! And, remember that by having a love for your sport and staying dedicated, you are already on the road to success. Good luck!!
***The photo above is one of me playing water polo which is the sport I love and have been playing throughout my high school career.