As a coach, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping athletes of all ages increase their athletic potential and reach goals through strength and conditioning. When an athlete or parent entrusts me with their training, it is something that I take very seriously. I know that no matter who walks through the door or when I am going to give them everything I’ve got. That being said, coaches like myself are only a small part of the equation for athletic success in the grand scheme. For an athlete to be truly successful, they require a self-determination level and drive that can only come from within.
The most important characteristics and habits of young athletes to have to be successful.
Important Characteristics Athletes Should Have
Successful athletes want to be coached. They love to learn and set their ego aside to understand that critique is simply a means toward self-improvement, not a malicious attack. It’s extremely difficult to be critical of your performance, particularly at a young age. Still, the sooner you can open yourself up to being coached and correcting mistakes, the better results you will yield.
A great athlete always remains hungry. They may have a great performance or a great season and can celebrate momentarily, but they do not dwell on their laurels. Conversely, a poor performance or less than expected outcome does not deter them. Time wasted on riding too high or too low for too long is time that could have been spent on self-improvement. They attack every day, every session, every set, and every rep with intent and focus. Remember that opportunities, particularly in athletics, are a privilege and not a right. They can be taken away at any time and therefore should be given nothing less than 100%.
The best of the best never makes excuses; they always find a way to get it done. They have their priorities in line and understand that greatness is the sum of doing all of the little things right day in and day out. It’s easy to be motivated and do every workout for a week or even a month, but it requires a commitment to ensure you stay the course when motivation wanes.
4) White Belt Mentality
Athletes who never stop growing and never stop learning have some of the longest and most successful careers of all. They never believe that they know everything or are above the fundamentals. They realize they can always learn something new or do something a bit better. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we catch excellence”.
Last but certainly not least, long-time successful athletes have passion for what they do. They bring everybody around them up and go the extra mile to get ahead. Viewing every action and every extra thing they do as an investment helps them to gain the needed edge over their counterparts. I firmly believe that no matter what you choose to do in life, make sure that it’s something you love, and you give it your all. Leave this life with no regrets.
Healthy Habits For Athletes
1) Sleep and Nutrition
Some athletes can get away with less-than-ideal sleep patterns and atrocious eating habits, but not forever. One day these things will catch up with you, and despite the nomenclature from some that say, “Well ____ athlete eats whatever he/she wants” or “____ athlete only sleep 4 hours a night and still successful”, it doesn’t matter. Ask yourself, how much better could they be if they improved these things? Why wouldn’t you do something as simple as eating well and sleeping well to improve your performance? Prioritize getting 8-10 hours of restful sleep a night, eating whole minimally processed nutrient-dense foods, and drinking adequate amounts of water.
2) Mindfulness and Meditation
The body is only part of the equation in terms of athletic success. The mind is the rest. I’ve witnessed countless athletes who had all of the potentials in the world slip through the cracks simply because they couldn’t get their minds right. In practice, they looked invincible, but when the light came on and the crowd began to cheer, they crumbled. Focus on mental imagery and meditation or even seek a qualified sports psychologist’s guidance if you have the means to do so to improve your mind. You will not be sorry.
3) Seeking Help
We as humans, often allow our ego to get in the way of everything and believe we already have all of the answers. The best athletes I’ve ever known are not afraid to ask for help or advice on something they’re struggling with. They can identify their weaknesses and be analytical in a positive way. We have resources available to us for assistance if we look around hard enough and choose to use them, make sure you do.
Perhaps most importantly as an athlete is being organized and planning. The quote “failing to plan is planning to fail” sounds cliché but reigns true in athletics. Athletes must map their path to success and follow the appropriate steps along the way. Blindly training will result in years of wasted effort and untapped potential. Map your road to success and stick to it.
Remember that as a young athlete, there will be challenges and obstacles along the way. It’s part of the journey. The most successful athletes build a solid foundation of habits from a very young age and have characteristics instilled in them. Do an honest assessment of yourself and if you see areas with which to improve on, act now, don’t wait! Best of luck.
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