Why are you training for sports? Personal passion? To impress a loved one? To change your lifestyle? There are plenty of valid answers to the question. The reason—your individual reason—for being an athlete is the most important element of your on-field success.
Mental preparation and motivation are the hidden keys to becoming a well-rounded athlete. Yet they're often overlooked.
In sports you are always competing against others to win. But to win the battle against others, you first have to win the ongoing war of you versus you. When your alarm goes off in the morning, do you hit the snooze button and and roll over, or jump out of bed, grab breakfast and roll to the gym?
This is where you need mental preparation and some type of motivation. Never rest on the fact that you are a natural athlete. Someone with similar skills who works hard will beat even the most talented natural athletes. (See Kevin Durant's 35th Hour, Episode 2: Hard Work Beats Talent.)
This is why you need to find your reason. Maybe your goal is to win a scholarship or break a school record. Or maybe you just want to get in better shape. Whatever your goal, you need a reason.
A good example is Kevin Durant. Before every game, he touches the numbers on the front of his jersey to pay tribute to a former coach who was killed. (Watch the YouTube video at the bottom of this article for the full story.) Durant has his reason. What's yours? You need a reason that makes you look up, get up and never give up.
Find your main motivation and use it to drive your training, your game play and your desire to get better today than you were yesterday in every aspect of your life. If you work on your mental motivation, it will change the outcome of your life—in sports and in general. So what is your reason?