An athlete's individual success hinges on many things. Unfortunately, some athletes place little or no value on what coaches consider important. Coaches can tell pretty quickly whether an athlete will be successful. In my professional opinion, athletes who demonstrate the following attributes have what it takes to make the team, earn a starting spot and play beyond high school. (See also 7 Keys to Training Success.)
This is one of the most important factors for athletic success. It seems obvious, but hear me out.
Many athletes are blessed with tremendous natural talent, but if they lack passion for their sport, they will never compete at the top level. Salary, publicity and fame can inspire them for awhile, but what will keep them going after they achieve those goals? Nothing. You must love your sport above all else. Athletes who don't inevitably fizzle out and end up blowing it. What most successful retired professional athletes remember most are the memories and the fun they had. Live life to the fullest. Enjoy every moment, good or bad. It's not really work if you love what you're doing. (See The Secrets to Success: Work Ethic and Desire.)
Look at the work ethic of the most naturally talented athletes you know. Do they devote hours on and off the field to training, or do they spend most of their time enjoying themselves?
At the professional level, if you don't put in the work, you won't last long. As an athlete, you can always make yourself bigger, faster, and stronger. But if you don't fully immerse yourself in your training and nutrition, you will not perform at your peak potential. That's because you won't be establishing the best platform to work from.
If you put in maximal effort, I can guarantee that you will perform better than some more naturally talented athletes. You will also be more valuable to your team. Put in the time. Trust me, it will be appreciated. Be true to yourself and lead by example. (Check out 3 Ways to Improve Your Athletes' Weight Room Work Ethic.)
Attitude is key. Any player with a bad attitude will quickly stand out as a problem. Some of the best advice I give athletes is to "keep your mouth closed and ears open." Be aware of your surroundings. If you are unsure what to do, follow the veterans. There is a reason why they're veterans. They are the people who have the most passion for the sport, or who put in the most time outside of the game. They've been around long enough to earn the respect of their teammates, coaches and peers. Follow in their footsteps and you will likely be led into the field of success.
Combine a great attitude with a passion for the game and an outstanding work ethic. I promise that you will be successful. Never sell yourself short or give up. If you want something bad enough, you'll get there. Above all, never change who you are in the process.
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