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Performance Habits: What It Takes To Be A Professional Athlete

Feel like you work really hard but still not seeing results?

We all recognize that there needs to be a certain level of talent to compete at a desired level. And skills are the ability to take that talent and train it to become habitual. However, we know that talent and skill alone does NOT get you to the top levels. At least, not anymore. That used to be the case several years ago. Now we think “talent + hard work = success”. Well, we’re closer now, but still, you are nowhere near the understanding of what it takes.

Hard work does NOT guarantee success. That’s the old framework and doesn’t hold much weight anymore. The defense and evidence of being a “hard worker” is not substantial for 3 reasons:

1.) What hard work looks like for you is subjective. It looks different for everyone.

2.) Hard work is a pre-requisite. Without hard work there is a substantial chance you will not succeed. With hard work, you’re only slightly closer.

3.) I’ve seen a hamster on a wheel before working its legs OFF! Did it go anywhere? No. And that’s what I see with most athletes. The same habits getting the same results. And the habits may be hard working habits, but

they are not progression-based habits. Thus, athlete’s start to lie to themselves, thinking they are doing what is required.

First there was talent. Then those players who worked harder than the talented ones were more successful. Now we have athletes that work smart and work hard that are seeing more success.

Think of your sport in the 60’s-80’s. In soccer, many players diets consisted of cigarettes at half-time. Do you think any soccer player now could do that? No. That’s one performance habit that’s proven to work.

Take that one example and think of how many layers of progression have been made since then:

- Strength and Conditioning Training

- Rehab, Ice Baths, Compression Boots, etc.

- Nutritional and Diet Programs

- Psychology Training

- Sleep Habits

The list goes on. So, the margin of success and what it takes to be a professional has gotten way more detailed than “hard work.” Will you have the anomaly’s that stand out and somehow made it? Yes. And sometimes they make it over the athlete who had more discipline. But those examples are becoming less and less.

What does it take? We can generally break it down to 3 fundamental components:

1. Awareness:

Pearson’s Law: Performance that gets measured, is performance that improves. You need to know how your “hard work” is paying off. And it goes beyond the words “feeling better.” Being specific with the skills and moments of execution will help create clarity around the next step of where to improve and how to improve it.

2. Honest Commitment:

100% commitment to getting 1% better every day. Understand the performance habits you have. Be brutally honest with which habits are facilitative, and which are debilitative. Commit to changing just one habit at a time and be ruthless with yourself in that pursuit.

3. Adaptation to Progression:

Whatever it took to get you “here”, is NOT what it is going to take to get you “there”. As you level up from club to college, college to pro, etc. The external standards of you change. They get tougher. Therefore, the internal standards also must change. What I say is, why wait to become a pro before you start acting like one. Start creating professional habits now, so when that day comes, the learning curve doesn’t feel like a tidal wave. You’re ready.

Being a sport psychology consultant, I know how we treat our body effects our mind and vice versa. So, it’s important I understand the athletes training and lifestyle habits and guide them to more facilitative ones for their development.

If you want to know more detail about the performance habits it takes to become a pro, follow the Instagram and Facebook account @elite_mentalperformance where I share information weekly to take your game to the next level.

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