As parents and coaches we all want success for our kids and those we coach. Of course some days are better than others, aren't they? It is easy to marvel at and celebrate a player's or team's success after the fact but what is behind the success? In other words...what drives success on game day?
Last weekend my 14u fastpitch softball team captured our tournament bracket to come home with medals and trophy. Like all successful tournaments Sunday's are long and generally stressful with many close games. Our Sunday was no different as we came from behind to win three straight games, including a 2-1 thriller in the final.
As happens so often a team gets on a roll and their level of play elevates. Look at most any tournament bracket and the deeper into the bracket you go the closer the games get. All of this would seem contrary to common sense as players battle fatigue with each additional game they play, often in less than ideal weather conditions.
|Evan Longoria, Associated Press|
So what drives success?
As I write about often the successful player on game day is one who can exert a high level of focus and energy in the present moment, no matter what their sport, position or specific element of their game. This mental focus is a product of an athlete's being in a relaxed state, confident...in the zone.
Typically, as I witnessed on my team last Sunday, players step up with the big hits and big plays because they expect to. At the point of impact they have turned off their mind from negative, doubtful or over-analyzing thoughts and replaced them with a "can do," ultra focused mindset.
In the most critical moments of the biggest games the most successful athletes are able to block out all external and internal distractions and simply do what they have been trained to do.
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Success is also driven by great preparation. The reason an athlete can exert laser focus in the most pivotal moments of the game is because they feel extraordinarily confident that they are ready for battle...ready to be the difference maker. Competition, big games, big plays or big moments become a challenge they expect to win, rather than moments to be feared.
Superior mental and physical preparation is necessary for game day success. There simply are no short cuts to greatness. Game day success requires high intensity, focus and energy during every practice to build competence as well as confidence.
Success is, perhaps, foremost driven by desire. On my team last weekend I witnessed so many of my players displaying so much desire -- an attitude of "refuse to lose" -- on elimination Sunday, proving once again that success is a choice. In a game where only one team can emerge as champion desire, effort, passion, energy all take center stage in determining the outcome.
The will to succeed is an amazing human trait to watch in action. I saw it time and again from 13 and 14 year old athletes who were truly driven to succeed.
Watching younger athletes driven to succeed is an incredible thing. In a world where so many take and give little these athletes give everything they have to achieve their individual and team goals. They are wired for competition, molded for success.
The next time you watch your athlete or team play marvel at their effort, their focus, their desire. Playing this game is a blessing for it teaches these athlete exactly how to succeed in the bigger game called life. If your athlete is truly driven to succeed celebrate it! Maybe you can learn a thing or two yourself along the way!
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