By Rachel Debling
Even in everyday, layman’s life, it’s pretty easy to understand that the attitude you have going into a situation — be it a job interview, a date, or a party in which you don’t know anyone — has great power in dictating the outcome. This is often one of the cornerstones of athlete mental training, and the reason why so many movies are punctuated with spirited locker-room pep talks from coaches who know their team can make it to the end triumphant — they just need a good rousing.
Most high-level athletes rely on their coaches and trainers to not only hone in their physical strengths and talents but to provide them with the tools to fine-tune their mental focus on the field, track, rink, or court. These are the techniques that actually hold the most power in shaping how their event will conclude — and, more so than any training or nutrition plan, everyone can use these devices to accomplish the nearly impossible in their sport of choice. Use their words to guide you, and you too can prosper in any environment.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.‘” — Muhammad Ali
Even the biggest heroes out there don’t always love getting up and doing what they do. Though they may fly higher than the average person can ever imagine and come close to near-immortality through their historic actions, sometimes a Monday is just a Monday, and a training session seems to be the last thing that they want to do. Reminding yourself that the sweat you give now and the effort you offer at this moment in time will pay off in spades in the future will help you push through points of discomfort that, in a previous time of your life, may have caused you to give up.
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” — Babe Ruth
Failure is scary. It stands in our path like a strange dog in an alley, preventing us from making it to the other side. But the thing is, if you don’t try you’ll never know — that Doberman could be nothing more than a harmless puppy, or your physical presence could cause it to back down and move out of the way. The most successful among us know that regretting you never tried is a far worse fate than attempting something and having to dust yourself off afterward.
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” — Derek Jeter
Natural ability is only part of the success equation. Ego can sometimes sway those who were born with the ability to hit, run, and skate faster than others, and, as they say, this is often how the mighty fall. When you are on the top, there is nowhere to go but down. However, if you recognize that hard work will take you to another level and you are willing to put the time in, your attitude is worth more than any amount of fast-twitch muscles or eye-hand coordination that someone else may be bestowed with.
“One man practising sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.” — Knute Rockne, football player and coach, University of Notre Dame
It’s easy to say you stand behind something: a cause, a belief, a group of people. But it’s rare that you actually see these sentiments, often spouted online or in boastfully casual conversation, put into action. In sport, the playing field is the common denominator, and treating your opponents as equals in terms of humanity and with respect is the sign of a true sportsman — and The Golden Rule that everyone, everywhere should remind themselves of on a daily basis.