Are you ready to make your sporting dream come true?
I have had the great honour and privilege of working with many outstanding athletes who have gone onto winning World Championships, Gold Medals and Grand Slams. I have shared their journey and travelled with them to more than 20 countries, experiencing their trials and tribulations, all the incredible highs and the low points too. I also spent 12 years full time at University studying all I could to learn to be the best I could be. However the greatest teachers I have had have been my athletes and all the experiences I have shared with them, and the lessons learned along the way. This article and all the ones that follow come to you from my heart, sharing my wisdom and experiences, from lessons with my athletes, helping them to be all they could be and achieve their dreams.
What would you really love to achieve in your chosen sport?
Perhaps it is the local tournament, maybe the National Championships or even an Olympic Gold Medal? Deep down we all want to succeed in whatever we do. Everyone loves to win and everyone loves winners! However, having the dream is only the beginning. As is often quoted in sports science research, it is a ten year, 10,000 hour journey to achieving world class performance.
Are you prepared to do all the hard work along the way, day in and day out?
I have worked with many gifted athletes over the years and time and time again, it is not the most talented that achieve the best, it is more often those that work hard, that persist, that are so incredibly determined and really, really want to achieve their dreams, that are more likely to succeed. There is yet another ingredient too, and one I believe to be the most important, and that is your belief in you!
What you truly believe is what you will achieve.
Your faith is your fortune.
Do you really believe you can do it?
For many athletes and just about everyone else too, the biggest obstacle they have is their own self-belief. They doubt themselves and put themselves down and underneath are not really confident at all. Some put on a confident exterior but underneath are quite afraid or worried and their inner voice is a constant negative.
Does this sound like someone you know? Intimately?
Don’t worry. You are not alone! Believing in yourself is a learned skill. Like all things in life, some are born with skills, others learn them along the way, and there are others too that spend a life time learning! It is not something you learn one day and then you have it for life! Like all skills, it needs to be practiced, rehearsed, and practiced again and again, every single day! Yes – every day! Even those athletes who are at the pinnacle of their respective sport spend hours each day refining and practicing their already excellent skills. Belief is much the same. Practice it daily. However the work is not nearly as hard – in fact it is fun and easy.
Let’s get started!
What sport do you really love?
I have had many athletes over the years who are excellent at more than one sport and have to make a choice between the sports at some stage if they want to become a pro. My answer is to follow your heart. Do what you love, not what Mum or Dad want you to do or a coach, teacher or friend might suggest. Do what you want to do. After all, it is you that must do all the hard work and make all the sacrifices along the way.
I remember the father of a boxer I trained telling me the story of his son. From the age of about 7, Craig had his heart set on becoming a boxer. He had an old boxing bag hanging up in the backyard at home and Craig would get up very early every morning before school and practice his punches. And then he would be back at the bag as soon as he got home from school too. However, no parent wants to see their child getting belted in the ring, so his father gave his son every opportunity to play and get coached in other sports including football and cricket, but boxing was his dream. Eventually his parents gave in and let him have some professional coaching and pursue his childhood dreams. And Craig certainly did that. After many years of daily hard work, commitment, and dedication Craig became the super welter-weight World Champion and his proud Dad was beside him every step of the way, all over the world. The key point here is that you must do what you love.
I have also seen the other side of the coin where children have been persuaded by their parents or significant others in their lives to do what they wanted and invariably the children gave up. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. My suggestion is to follow your heart. Do what you love.
I used to run Gifted Athletes Workshops for primary school children in Australia. To qualify for the program, you had to be nominated by your school and only the two top athletes were selected. It did not matter what sport you played, and twenty-five schools were invited to participate from the surrounding regions. Competition was thus very fierce! As very few of these budding young champs knew each other, I would go around the group initially and ask them what was their sporting dream.
You would get all sorts of answers from winning a gold medal, (no mention of the sport!) to playing for the Australian Netball Team or becoming a member of the Aussie Cricket Team. Very few responses were ever specific. Some though did know exactly what they wanted, such as to win a gold medal in the 200 metres track event at the 2016 Olympics. Winners know what they want to achieve. They know where they are going, right down to the position on the team, the name of the team, the event and the Championship.
Imagine you are going on a family holiday. First of all, you would decide the destination, then you might look into travel arrangements and accommodation. With so many choices available, this could take a while! If you were driving, you would not just jump in the car and drive! You have to plan the route, make sure the car is in good condition, decide what to pack, make arrangements for your home, arrange care of the pets, and so the list goes on!
The same applies to our sporting dream. We have to know what we want to achieve in order to be able to get there. For example, if you are a swimmer, training for the 100 metres backstroke is very different to the 1500 metres freestyle. The muscles you use, the energy systems, training methods, etc are all very different despite being the same sport. Likewise if you are a soccer player, the goal keeper will have different training regimes to that of the forward or defending player.
Do you know exactly what event you want to excel at in your chosen sport?
If you are unsure of your answer to this question just yet, then continue to experience many different events and find what you love. Think about your attributes. For example, if you are naturally fast, you might select a sport where that can be an asset. What are your skills? Some people possess great hand eye co-ordination, others have great ball skills, whilst others have amazing long distance endurance. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses? If not, find out today! Let them guide you to greatness. Most importantly of all, though follow your heart. Tune in within!
It does not matter where you are starting from
Winning starts with Beginning
Many sporting greats were written off when they were youngsters and told they would never amount to anything. Did you know that Ben Hogan one of the great golfers was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child, or that Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketballers of all time did not even make his high school basketball team? Many of the paralympic athletes I have trained have incredible stories to tell of their accidents and long rehabilitation. One athlete I coached, John Lindsay endured 52 operations as part of his spina bifida treatment and went onto win Gold Medals in three Olympics.
We all start from somewhere. The key is to simply start! We will begin the journey in the next article!