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3 Keys to Athletic Success

  • Author:
    By Alan Stein, CCS, CSCS
  • Date:
    Aug 23, 2010

If you want to be successful at anything in life, especially basketball, you need to work hard every single day. Are you rolling your eyes? Sound cliché? Sound redundant? Probably, but nevertheless it is true. One of the best coaches and motivational speakers I have ever heard speak was Jim Valvano. I have an old grainy video clip of him speaking in which he said something that changed my life forever:

"Every morning when you wake up, you have only two choices. The choice to work hard or the choice to not work hard. That's it, no other choices. Either you work hard or your don't; it's pretty simple. If you choose not to work hard, you will fail. If you choose to work hard, you still might fail! How is that for a deal? Success is never guaranteed, but it is impossible without hard work."

While I firmly believe hard work is the backbone of success in any endeavor, I believe there are several other factors that contribute to whether or not you are successful. I am going to focus on three of them:

Find Positive Influences

It is very rare for anyone to be successful without any help. So a key to being successful is finding someone who pushes you. Someone who pushes you to be the best you can be. Someone who holds you accountable. Someone who motivates you. Someone who tells you what you need to hear; not what you want to you hear. Someone who gives you energy. Someone who encourages you. Someone who coaches you.

Everyone needs someone like this in their life. If you are really lucky, you will find several people like this and surround yourself with them as often as possible. And don't wait for this to happen by chance, go find this person! You have a much better chance of being successful if you do.

This person can be a sibling, a parent, a friend, a teammate, a coach, a trainer, or a mentor. Who they are is not as important as what they are. Are they someone who makes you better? Are they helping you become more successful?

Tiger Woods is one of the most dominant athletes on the planet. He has natural ability, a tremendous golf IQ and a relentless work ethic. He has already attained astronomical success. So why does Tiger Woods need a coach?

He doesn't. Tiger Woods doesn't need a coach. He wants a coach.

He wants someone to make him better. As good as Tiger is, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, he wants to find areas where he can improve. He studies film on his swing hoping to find a flaw. Why would the best golfer of all time want to find a flaw in his swing? Because it will mean he can still get better. Tiger humbly recognizes this and uses a coach. But it is not just the fact he uses a coach that is important. It is the fact he has found someone in his life to push him; every day, every practice, every match. Tiger's success is not an accident.

Do you have a person like this in your life?

Be Willing to Learn

Another important ingredient to being successful is gaining access to developmental resources. Whether you are a basketball player or coach, you have to make sure you are constantly progressing and developing. Either you are getting better or you are getting worse; there isn't anything in between.

As a veteran basketball strength & conditioning coach, I spend a good deal of time on my own professional development and am constantly seeking both people and resources to broaden my scope and assist in my success. I read the latest training books and manuals, watch the latest training DVDs, attend numerous coaching clinics, and network with dozens of collegiate and NBA strength coaches. I know part of my success is making sure I am on the cutting edge with my training techniques, concepts, and equipment. This commitment to my professional development takes time and effort, but it is well worth it.

What resources do you use to get better?

Strengthening Your 'Want To'

A third ingredient of being successful is strengthening your "want to." Everyone has a want-to list. If you are a basketball player your want to's probably include "I want to jump higher" or "I want to gain 10 pounds." Most times people's want to's are just lip service. They just say they want something but they don't work as hard as they can to get it.

Think your want to is strong? Let's say your goal is to gain 10 pounds over the summer. If I weighed you on June 1 and told you on September 1 I would weigh you again and if you were 10 pounds heavier I would give you $1 million in tax-free cash, would you accept my offer? Of course you would! Think you would attain your goal? I guarantee you would. Heck you would probably exceed it and gain 15-20 pounds. because your want to would be unstoppable!

One way to gauge the strength of your "want to" is by seeing how many times you give in to the little voice in your head. The voice that says, "I am too tired to work out today. I don't want to get up early. My legs are too sore to get up extra shots. I can't do that drill, it is way too hard." If you let that little voice win, your want to is not strong enough If you let that voice win, you won't be successful.

How strong is your "want to?" Do you really want something or just say you do?

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