Athletes make mental mistakes. Hitters swing at bad pitches. Gymnasts over rotate on tumbling passes. Point guards make bad passes. Linemen jump offsides. We might assume athletes aren’t focused but in reality they are too amped up.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I love this quote. It is a reminder that success comes from doing the little things, consistently, over time. I’ve written before about 11 habits that cultivate excellence, but many people struggle to develop habits in the first place.
Athletes thrive on competition. Yet many have a significant fear of failure. It looks different from one player to the next, but the bottom line is that many athletes are risk averse. A basketball player passes up the open shot. A hitter takes the first pitch when the game is close, even though it was right down the middle. Despite their competitive natures, athletes need to foster courage.
Adversity is inevitable in sports. However, as many have said before, our greatest challenge is ourselves. A slump is merely one example of this. For athletes a slump is a downward trend in their performance outcomes. With the wrong mental approach, a slump can feel like a black hole in a player’s career.
Robert Horry, NBA champion, said, “Pressure can burst a pipe, or pressure can make a diamond.” How an athlete responds to the pressure of being on the verge of victory often decides who comes out victorious. Why is it that some athletes seize the moment while others burst like a pipe? An athlete’s mentality makes all the difference.
Winning teams are identified by the results they achieve. They are defined by their winning percentage and championships. However, great success is fueled not by talent or systems but by a team’s culture. Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Whether you lead a club, high school, university, or professional team, your success will be determined by your team’s culture.