I've heard it a number of times from players I coach.
"How can I take my game to the next level?" or "What do I need to do play in college?"
We all watch professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, Olympics, etc. and ask how do they do it?
We all want to be them but not many know the amount of work it takes to become them.
All we see is the finished product crossing the finish line, the 60 yard field goal game winners and the classic buzzer beater. Along with the glory and praise they receive from victories and national championships.
Many of us do not realize all of the hard work that takes place behind the scenes.
This leads me into the real question.
What does it take to become great?
Through my experience, all athletes who have achieved high levels of success seem to carry a few key characteristics. Characteristics that help push them to the next phase of their career. I’ve listed just a few that I feel will help take your game to the next level.
Characteristics of the Elite
Never Accept Mediocrity. Not finishing sets, going 70% through drills, slacking because your coach isn’t watching. All are signs of mediocrity and can lead you down the short path of being an average athlete. Being average might work for a small portion of your playing career but ultimately it will be the difference between playing in college (or the pros) and not. Strive to get better every day you’re at practice or working on your craft. Set goals and go all-out to achieve them. Never accept mediocrity.
Over Prepare. Late nights and early mornings. Hours upon hours of countless reps drenched in sweat while everyone else is asleep. Work hard and reap the benefits. Over prepare yourself for your next opportunity and be ready for anything thrown your way.
Be Coachable. Listen to what your coach is saying. Take a stab at the advice you’ve been given from your peers. If it works for you great! If it doesn’t, no sweat. That is how you develop further as an athlete. Take advice/criticism, pull out the weeds, and keep what works for you in your tool box. Perfect your craft and become an expert in your position.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure. The cliché phrase may seem simple but it does hold truth for athletes. With my experience in sports I can heavily relate to the topic. Worrying about making a mistake will make you tense and uncomfortable during a game or even practice. Relax and stop worrying about not being perfect. All athletes make mistakes in their career. That is just a part of being a human being. The trick is to be sure you never make the same mistake twice. Correct your mistakes and become a better athlete.
“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm
Become Obsessed. While this may not seem reasonable to some, obsession is a common trait with some of the all-time greats. Obsession might have a bad rep in context but I see it as an essential trait you need to achieve your goals and ambitions in life. Live it, breathe it, eat while watching or reading about it, and go to sleep dreaming about it. Become infatuated with what you’re are doing and tell me it doesn’t make you better at what you are doing! Jump in with two feet and fully commit to becoming the best athlete in your sport.
Tom Brady, “There isn’t a moment that I don’t think about playing. As I walk by the mirror in the morning I’ll go through a throwing mechanic. It’s just ingrained in every aspect of my life. There’s no off button.”
Eliminate Excuses. Get rid of the excuses for why you can’t do something. If things don’t work out in your favor, accept them and correct them. Don’t point the blame on one of your teammates or anyone else. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “Oh I couldn’t go practice because my parent’s got home late and I didn’t have a ride to the field.” Or “I would have made it if it wasn’t for [insert excuse here].” GET RID of EXCUSES and take responsibility for any mishaps that might have happened. Don’t have a ride to the field? Find a way to get better around the house or in the driveway. Avoid the excuses and accelerate your success by being accountable.
These are just a handful of characteristics Coach Cameron and The Kicking Unit staff try to ingrain in the players we train on a daily basis. We feel if you live by these you will see high levels of success on and off the field. Have any other characteristics to add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know.
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