Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Athlete?

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Being an athlete is not an easy job. During the course of the season you are going to be encouraged, discouraged, pushed, pulled, complimented, chewed out, and pushed to your physical and mental limits to become the best player that you are capable of becoming.

To often, players participate in athletics for the wrong reasons. They come into the season out of shape, both mentally and physically. Their attitude is complacent and they are satisfied with
being average. They do not want to work hard enough to become a champion. And when the going gets tough, this player will quit on themselves, or worse yet … disappear in a key ball game.

Being an athlete is much more than wearing your school colors and being a member of the team. It involves hard work, dedication, commitment, and a sense of pride in yourself and your teammates. The long hours an athlete puts in are the building blocks for a successful future not only in athletics, but more importantly in life.

Do you have what it takes to be an athlete? There are several questions you must answer honestly if you are going to be the best that you can be in sports and in life.

1. Are you coachable?

Are you a student of the game, willing to learn what the coaching staff has to teach you? Are you willing to accept criticism to make you a better player or do you have the 'know it all' attitude? Do you strive to improve on a daily basis? Do you want to become the best you are capable of becoming?

2. Are you willing to practice?

I'm not talking about showing up and putting in your time, but rather the willingness to work hard
every day. It is imperative to practice at game speed with the passion that you exhibit during games. Do you come early and stay late? Are you willing to help your teammate become a better player? Great athletes work hard to become great athletes. While it is true there are some athletes who are born with natural ability, most great athletes work for years to reach their peak performance level.

3. Are you a competitor?

Does the passion to compete burn within your soul? Do you want to win, expect to win, and work to win on a daily basis? Do you refuse to lose when the game is on the line? Are you willing to step to the plate when there is a serve to be made, rebound to be grabbed, or catch to be made? Does it bother you when you give less than your best? And, does it tear at your heart when you lose? Philosopher Denis Diderot said, "Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things."

4. Are you willing to sacrifice to become the best athlete possible?

Sports are not just about the competition. It is about the preparation. That means spending time
in the weight room during the summer, maintaining a regimen of exercise, eating right, and getting proper rest. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player in modern times, said, "I've always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I do not do things halfheartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect halfhearted results. That's why I approached practice the same way I approached games. You can not turn it on and off like a faucet. I could not dog it during practice then, when I needed that extra push late in the game , expect it to be there. " And professional golfer Seve Ballesteros added, "To give yourself the best possible chance of playing to your potential, you must prepare for every eventuality. That means practice." And practice requires sacrifice.

5. Are you willing to work on your weaknesses?

Too often, players do not want to spend time working on their weaknesses. It is easier and less painful to work on the things we do well. However, as a player, we are held back because we fail to spend time working on our weak skills or fundamentals. Remember, pain is temporary ….. the pride of doing something well lasts forever.

6. Are you willing to work through adversity?

It is said that adversity causes some men to break and others to break records. Lou Holtz, one of the top college football coaches in America over the last twenty years, stated that "I've never known anybody to achieve anything without overcoming adversity." Are you mentally tough? Can you bounce back when faced with defeat? It is not whether you get knocked down that counts …. rather how many times you rise from the canvas. When you give it your best, you may run out of time on the clock, but you will never lose.

7. Do you have the character necessary to be a champion?

John Wooden said sports do not develop character, they reveal it. As an athlete you are in the
public spotlight. Your conduct, what you say and what you do, makes news. And nothing sells newspapers like bad news. It is easy to find someone who will lead you the wrong way. It might be a teammate or a friend. Just as it takes years to develop as an athlete, you should work to develop your character …. one that is respected by teammates and others in your community. It takes determination to resist the temptations that are out there. A friend of mine, Kevin Wall, uses this daily measuring stick- "Have I done more for some today than some have done for me?" If a person can answer "yes" at the end of the day, then that person has had a good day.