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1. Train consistently.
Training is the most obvious action associated with success. All great athletes have put in the time and energy to be successful. But this same action applies to all levels of athletes. Consistency is key. There are days when the weather is bad, you don’t feel like working out, or you want to go have fun with your friends. It’s okay to have a day off but there are times when you know you need to simply make the decision to train.
Training is important but so is recovery. Every athlete that wants to sustain gains over time will need to build in recovery days. Bodies need time to rebuild, relax, and integrate training. Our minds also need time to relax. When a coach says take the day off, listen. Successful athletes know the value of a recovery day or period and take them. One essential benefit might be avoiding injury from overuse.
In an interview with Beckie Scott, an Olympic Gold Medalist in skiing, she said one of best exercises that she did for five years (talk about training consistently!) was she asked herself three questions after every race: What went well? What didn’t go well? What will I need to do better for next time? (see SKITRAX, 2009 www.skitrax.com). You can have focus but you need to know where to put your focus. She said she credited Terry Orlick with helping her review her answers and gained a lot from his book, Pursuit of Excellence. This is valuable to read for anyone interested in the mental aspects of training and competing.
4. Inspired to be more.
You need to be doing your sport for reasons other than just winning. Often the commitment is about some human desire to be all you can be, to challenge yourself personally. This holds for sport and other parts of life. We learn many life lessons in sport and one is when we have passion for something we commit to it or love to do it for the sake of doing it. Winning is great but you need more than this to truly rise to your best. One example of this is some athletes talk about being inspired by others and dedicating races or training sessions to certain people. Ask yourself, what inspires me? And how can I use this as motivation?
5. Nutrition is key in the training plan.
Invest in your overall well being by committing to a healthy, nutritional diet. Feed your body with good fuel and know how to fuel it at different times, such as during training, competing, and even in recovery. There is a great app that might help with this, MyPlate, via Itunes.
6. See Setbacks as opportunities.
Successful athletes utilize obstacles and challenges or poor performances as an opportunity to learn. They are less critical of mishaps or poor performances and instead, learn different coping mechanisms or make adjustments in their game in order to be better next time. Setbacks don’t take them out of the game, but instead are used to make their game better.