From LOCKERROOM: It’s no secret that it takes tremendous effort, passion, and dedication to succeed in sports and fitness. Great athletes aren’t born – they’re made. Hard work is an essential part of the game and every serious athlete knows this. However, if you want to truly progress in your sport and develop yourself into the best you can be, then you have to go beyond just pure talent and hard work. You have to adopt certain habits and lifestyles that can help you reach your highest level.
If there’s one group of people whom you can learn this from, it’s the elite athletes. They’re the ones who’ve merged talent and hard work with special habits to reach the highest levels of their sport. If you look at elite athletes across different sports, you’ll realise they possess many similar habits and traits. Regardless of what sport or activity they do, these habits are the cornerstone of what makes them elite and what separates them from the rest of the field.
There are plenty of essential habits and qualities that you can adopt, no matter your sport or activity. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a hobbyist, incorporating these habits will help you get to the next level and bring you one step closer into being the best you can be.
Training smart: Elite athletes don’t just train hard (that’s a given!), they train smart too. This means constantly working on their weaknesses instead of merely sharpening their strengths. It also means constantly learning new things in their sport, whether it be a new technique or a better, more efficient way of doing something. Continuous improvement (no matter how small) is the goal of smart training.
Setting Effective Goals: Effective goal-setting involves setting goals that are highly specific, challenging yet doable, and measurable. Elite athletes set both long-term and short-term goals and use these as milestones for their progress and development. By constantly setting goals, they get a better picture of what they’re doing right, what they have to work on, and how they can improve.
Visualisation: Visualising success as well as their performance on the field is a common habit of many elite athletes. This not only primes their bodies for performing the activities, but also prepares their minds and bodies for what can or will happen. The key to effective visualisation is being as specific as you can be, imagining every detail possible during the performance (ex. the taste of the air, feeling of the muscles moving, etc). The more specific the visualisation, the better.
Surrounding themselves with people who are better: Elite athletes constantly surround themselves with people who make them better, both in sports and their personal lives. This could be anybody, from the a special coach who knows how to work with the athlete to a training parter who does something better than him/her. By surrounding themselves with people who make them better (especially those who know more or are better than them), they improve quicker and significantly accelerate their development. As the saying goes, iron sharpens iron.
Taking care of their bodies: Most people think of elite athletes as people who train non-stop, 24/7. But in most cases, this simply isn’t true. Elite athletes know that recovery is part of their training and they take their recovery very seriously. This means allotting enough time for their bodies to rest and recover, eating and living healthy, and getting plenty of good sleep. They know that their bodies are their weapons, and they take care of them accordingly.