Good athletes own their performance. They never blame others because there's no one to blame. How they perform is up to them. They control the process that leads to the result.
The process seems like a mysterious concept. It's often talked about, but rarely defined. So what do athletes control that lead to a good process?
Show up early. Everything presents an opportunity to be early or late. Good athletes show up early. Just because practice starts at 8:00 doesn't mean you have to show up at 7:30. You can get there early.
Get there before everyone else. Take advantage of the early hours. Practice while others sleep.
Do good reps. You'll perform thousands of reps over your career. And you decide if they're good or bad. Good reps lead to good performance. Bad reps lead to bad performance.
Every rep points you closer to or further from where you want to go. To be great, you need to stack reps in the right direction. Which direction are you moving?
Push yourself. Coaches shouldn't coach your effort. The good ones don't. Nobody should have to beg you to try. "I'm not here," as Coach Geno Auriemma says, "to coach your effort." Your effort is on you. If you don't feel like trying, somebody else will gladly take your spot. Try hard or leave.
Ask questions. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know. You learn by asking questions. It shows your coaches and teammates that you care. Good leaders ask questions—they want to learn and improve. Don't pretend to know everything. If you're thinking it, someone else is too. Be a leader. Ask the question.
Don't wait to be told what to do. Good athletes act. You shouldn't need to be told to do something. If your coach has to tell you to do everything the team will never be good. Good players take initiative.
Take the hard path. There are always easy choices available. Sleeping in. Partying on the weekends. Eating crappy food. Taking a play off.
Good athletes make hard choices. They go to sleep early. They stay home instead of partying. They eat well. And they never take plays off.
Every choice influences your final destination. Are your choices aligned with where you want to go? Only you know the answer.
Don't tolerate mediocre effort. Mediocre effort in practice leads to mediocre performance in games. Good teams hold each other accountable. You can't be good if you tolerate someone's lack of effort.
Every team has players that don't like to try hard. They'd rather slack off in practice and show up on gameday. But that never works. If you want a great team, don't tolerate mediocre effort from anyone. Hold people accountable. Get them on the train or get them out.
Have a consistent attitude. Nobody puts you in a good mood. And nobody puts you in a bad mood. You choose your attitude. Your choice affects your team. Are you a positive or negative influence to the people around you?
Take care of yourself outside of your sport. What does your diet look like? Are you sleeping enough? Are you treating your mind and body the way you want them to perform?
It's easy to show up and try hard at gametime. Everybody does that. It's hard to make the right choice day after day. Few can do that. But that's the difference between mediocre and great performance.
These are choices you control. Each day presents many options. Your success depends on your choices. Take responsibility. Never blame others. Never make excuses.
Understand that your performance is up to you. You don't control the outcome. But you do control the process that leads to the outcome. You can choose to stay up late, eat crappy food, and take plays off. Or you can choose to recover, be the example, and have a good attitude. Which choices are better?
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