Athletic training places a lot of emphasis on weaknesses and curing them to get better. Though eliminating or significantly reducing weaknesses is important, where does this leave your strengths in terms of your training focus? (See 4 Motivational Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals.)
You probably love your sport because you’re good at it. Your strengths got you into playing, and working on your weaknesses isn’t something you enjoy. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to work on your strengths and appreciate them—so you can continue to feel the way you did when you first started playing.
To be a great athlete in any sport, you have to love it. If you’re a sprinter, you have to enjoy the feeling of reaching top speed in order to get through the grind of lactate tolerance training. The same applies to team-sport athletes. Say you’re a quarterback who throws extremely accurate long passes. Even though you are already good at it, always include long pass drills during practice. They will get you through the other sessions, when you’re getting hit. (Read our interview with softball legend Jennie Finch about her love of the game.)
As an athlete, you know there will be times when you have to dig deep and endure pain to get better. But you can’t do that if you only do the things you enjoy the least. That might make you fall out of love with your sport. Lactate training hurts, and getting hit is no fun; so make sure you get the balance right by focusing on the stuff you enjoy.
Keep that feeling of enjoyment fresh, because it’s what sustains you through the hard bits, the sub-par performances, and the most intense and difficult training sessions. The things you are good at, that you enjoy, are what other people notice and admire about you. Most of all, they are what put a smile on your face. Take a helicopter view of your training. Do you generally enjoy it? If not, then you need to find ways to get more fun into it, more things to enjoy.
Improvement is important, and curing weaknesses is where improvements are greatest. But it is your strengths that got you into your sport and that make you want to continue. Neglecting them can render the improvements you make meaningless.