“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
Athletes are not average people. While athletes may come into the world as average, they soon change. Athletes have a drive to constantly improve that is not present in every human being. Becoming an athlete is all about developing skills that are beyond normal (or average) human capacity and continuing to do so long term. Being an athlete is a lifestyle choice – and real athletes are athletes for life. So this means that – as an athlete – you have a built in motivation to continuously improve your skills. People – even into their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s still consider themselves to be athletes because of this desire and their constant training endeavors.
It stands to reason that if being an athlete means being above the norm or even outstanding, then remaining at this level (and continuing to improve) takes work. And to make this a continuous cycle this work must be developed into habits.
Habits are an important part of anyone’s life. Habits “make or break” us, whether we’re athletes, business people or artists. While occasional activities do have some impact, the habits – the things we do every day or nearly every day – are what actually define us. Results are made and – or not made- from habits.
Have you heard it said that all it takes to be successful is to find someone else who has achieved what you want, and do what they do?
If we believe this, then we should be looking at the habits of elite athletes to understand the habits we should be developing to unleash our potential greatness. Whether that greatness enables us to compete professionally or not, mirroring habits of the “greats” in our selected fields of endeavor is surely bound to help us improve to be performing at our maximum level.
It’s easy to get into bad habits. We may pick these up from other athletes, the media, “know-it-all” experts or marketing by products retailers. Don’t fall into this trap because all you’re doing is building your own roadblocks to peak performance and stalling your progress.
Below are seven habits of highly effective athletes that we can apply to begin pursuing our personal bests.
1. Revolve your other habits around your goals. For example, diet and rest schedules should support your training, performance and recovery. Think of your daily activities from a consequences perspective.
2. Give training efforts 110%. Don’t just go through the motions, work at it as if your life depended on it.
3. Become knowledgeable of your body and your sport. While coaches are important, you shouldn’t depend on your coach to be your brains. You will be a better athlete because you have more knowledge.
4. Track and monitor. If you don’t have this information you don’t know how the best ways to get better.
5. Focus on details. Pay attention to the details of your environment, your equipment and your performance. If you don’t focus at this level of detail, you’re just in it for the exercise. You aren’t really an athlete.
6. Use restraint and discipline. Set your training strategy and stick with it. Don’t suddenly decide you’re going to increase your weights dramatically or amp up the distance you’re running to accelerate your progress. It will be likely to have the opposite effect – or cause an injury.
7. Envision success. Stay prepared mentally. Your attitude about performance is key so taking the time to visualize your success gives your mind a frame of reference to pursue. If you’re competing, mental preparation also helps to calm nerves. Remember that the clearer the visualization, the more powerful the impact.
These may not sound significant but they are. Coaches recognize these across many of today’s elite athletes in all sports and disciplines.
Information Source: EndlessHumanPotential.com – a blog by Coach Chris Lyons, Experience personal trainer, strength, conditioning and sprint coach