What the Best Athletes Do Differently

Posted: Wednesday, July 19th, 2017. Filed under ATHLETeX, Talent
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“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant

The difference maker is the will to prepare! This includes the commitment, effort, and perseverance to endure the pain of intense preparation day after day. Even when teams have phenomenal physical talent, coaches and athletes can only expect consistent successful outcomes when these non-physical talents are in place.

What do the best athletes do differently from the rest? Well, they have an incredible work ethic – they will not allow themselves to be outworked as they prepare for game day.

The Big Five of Work Ethic:

Self-discipline

Jerry Rice, statistically the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, was also one of the slowest. By NFL standards, Jerry was even slower than his own quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young, in the 40-yard dash. What many do not realize is exactly how Jerry became the greatest, even with these limitations. He leveraged the strengths he had and repeated them over and over. By investing in his precision route running, extensive cardiovascular work long before it became popular, and consistent time in the film room, Jerry created a pattern of disciplined behavior. Like Jerry Rice, the best student-athletes create consistent, deliberate repetition throughout their training and preparation. Meanwhile, they are mindful of time management to be at the peak of their performance abilities. These athletes have an acute sense of self-awareness of what their bodies and minds need to ensure they follow nutritional and health care plans for themselves.

Responsibility

Joe Namath guaranteed the underdog New York Jets would beat the far superior Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Sure, he may have showed some bravado, but he backed it up. One of the most famous promises didn’t come out of seeking the limelight, but rather from his desire to commit himself to his teammates and the promise he made to lead them to victory. Like “Broadway Joe”, outstanding student-athletes take on a commitment to their teammates, while consistently taking ownership of and following through on their commitments. They see these promises as a commitment to themselves, their teammates, and their coaches. Imagine student-athletes who always push themselves to work hard for their teammates. The biggest reason they do this is because they feel the “good pressure” of promising results.

Focus

Imagine the ability to block out all distractions and take a laser-like approach to the task ahead. We have seen famous examples of this from Michael Jordan and his famous last second shot to win the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. We have also seen his “Flu Game” where a bout of severe food poisoning didn’t stop him from scoring 38 points to lead his team to a comeback victory. This was a classic example of focus, and much like MJ, the best collegiate athletes share this similar intangible that over time allows them to truly hone in on their targets athletically and ignore the pain, road fans, or any outside stressors to get the job accomplished successfully.

Flexibility

Dwayne Wade, one of the greatest shooting guards the NBA has seen over the past 20 years, partnered with LeBron James and Chris Bosh to become the Big 3 in Miami. They helped the Heat reach the NBA Finals four straight years and achieve back to back championships in 2012-2013. Wade, knowing James was the best player on the planet, gladly relinquished the lead role for the Heat in order to allow James to lead the team into an historic run of winning. Without hesitation, flexible student-athletes are able to adapt to change for the good of themselves and others around them, without succumbing to the obstacles of ego, selfishness or even anger. They accept change with a “can do” attitude which builds both the performance and relationships of teams focused on achieving greatness.

Results Orientation

10.00… 9.79… 9.77… 9.68… 9.58.  These numbers represent the past five world records in the men’s 100m dash often defining the title of “Fastest Man in The World”. Usain Bolt, the current record holder said, “For me, I’m focused on what I want to do. I know what I need to do to be a champion, so I’m working on it.” Each of those numbers, representing Carl Lewis, Donovan Bailey, Asafa Powell, and Maurice Green, were numbers and targets for Bolt. Like the best athletes, Bolt uses the names and statistics from these athletes to motivate himself to become a champion. Over the past seven years, Bolt has trained to break and re-break his world record, which so often defines his success and motivation as an athlete.

Can You Measure It?

Clearly, work ethic extends beyond the physical. These are the non-physical, psychological, mental, emotional “IT” of each student-athlete.  HUMANeX calls this “IT” Impact Talent. HUMANeX Ventures already has tools that measure Impact Talent. Additionally, HUMANeX Ventures measures themes like competitiveness, coachability, grit, and resilience.

This post was written by HUMANeX teammate F. Salam

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