I might not be as mighty as I once was in the physical sense, but everything I developed in sports is still alive and well (and kicking) in me as a person. So, how will I accomplish my goals, dreams and live out my passions in the new year?
I’m going all-in on what I already know.
Check out these 10 valuable characteristics you are developing through sports – right now.
1. WORK ETHIC: The line is the line. The final score is the final score. Volleyball games are not won at 24, they are won at 25. When I’m coaching and I see a kid who is three feet shy of the line during shuttle runs or lunges, I see a kid who won’t make it very far in higher level sports. You may squeak by on athleticism or size in the early years, but that level of effort will not last. If you are an athlete looking to be a champion, you have to cross the line every time, not just come close. You have to finish all the reps. It’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to make you tired and frustrated and, yes, you’ll feel accomplished once you finish.
Coolest thing ever: This work ethic will stick with you forever and be a part of whatever you set your mind and heart to.
2. TEAMWORK: The coach chooses your teammates, you don’t. In any given season, you are asked to work with one, two, five, ten other people. Each of them is different, each of them possess a separate set of skills different than you, some are better than you, some are not but you all have the same goal in mind – to play at the highest level possible and hopefully get that win. If you cannot work well with your team or effectively manage your skill set to work with everyone else, you are not a team player. Period.
Coolest thing ever: Those who manage this well can work with all kinds of people throughout their lifetime, it is an athlete’s adaptability that will make them successful in any arena and make working more fun too.
3. INTEGRITY: I have a quote I came up with a couple years ago:
“Winning at all cost is for the ego, winning with integrity is for the soul,”
I’ve won games at all cost and I’ve ticked off teammates and coaches in the process. But, I’ve won lots more games with integrity. It’s when I know I did my best, busted my tail for every play and never quit. It’s when I didn’t rely on a referee or home court advantage for the outcome. Winning at all cost requires us to compromise something in order to win. It asks us to compromise our integrity. Calling a ball out that was really in (or vice versa) serves no one.
Coolest thing ever: When you win with integrity, it feeds and nurtures your soul. It transcends the game, the field and the court. It makes you a winner in life.
4. PERSEVERANCE: Some days you don’t get out of the drill until you finish the drill. Some days you have a really hard time finishing the drill. A good coach knows what you are made of and will push you to finish, even when you doubt your own ability. Finishing the drill when you are tired, gassed, on the verge of tears is how perseverance is developed. When you want to quit, when you want to be angry, when you want to walk out of the gym…and you don’t…that’s when you develop perseverance and begin to see what you are made of.
Coolest thing ever: When you have a goal or a dream, you know it will be hard to see the finish line from the starting line, perseverance keeps you from giving in when you know there’s more in the tank.
5. PATIENCE: If you’ve been at sports for longer than one season, you know things don’t happen over night. Good things take time, great things take a lifetime. Much like perseverance, patience is a practiced virtue and a discipline. Champions know how to wait things out even when results aren’t immediately visible.
Coolest thing ever: While everyone else clamors for the shiny stuff on the surface, you are developing a character of gold that will shine longer than a sparkle.
6. RESPONSIBILITY: What uniform is your team wearing? Is it clean? What do I need for a full day in the gym for my upcoming tournament? How much food will I need? What will keep me nourished and give me energy throughout the day? What do I need to do between practices to recover: nutrition, mobility work? What school work do I have due before I get on the plane for the next out of state competition? The earlier you take responsibility for yourself, the better. Your mother is not going to college with you.
Coolest thing ever: Your mother is not going to college with you.
7. FEEDBACK: It’s not always fun and it’s not always nice, but you don’t get any better if you cannot take correction or listen to feedback. Coaches know the sport we play and can give us an accurate assessment of our ability and spot areas where we need improving. Athletes are ever changing, ever evolving and on a constant journey to improve. Feedback is an important part of this journey.
Coolest thing ever: Your ability to hear feedback will allow you to adapt and adjust to many situations. You don’t know everything and accepting that will make you a great player in sport and in life.
8. FOCUS: Like perseverance, patience and work ethic; focus helps us set, strategize and execute goals. It is laser pointed efforts to attain something that you want. Perhaps it’s a skill, a particular team, a college scholarship, a personal record in the gym or on the track. Focus requires planning, discipline and dogged determination to follow through.
Coolest thing ever: Once you learn how to focus, even the peskiest distractions cannot get in your way.
9. STRUGGLE: I recently saw something like this posted on social media: “winning isn’t normal.” I loved it. In sports, we learn this to the nth degree. In order to win, you have to work harder and smarter than every one else. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still lose. But, the upside is this: losing creates an inner struggle, a struggle we need in order to develop resilience. Struggle leads to resilience leads to getting back up and trying again and again and again…and again (and again).
Coolest thing ever: Losing creates the necessary struggle to develop resilience.
10. STRATEGY: Strategy is the plan you have going into a game. Strategy is how you change that plan when the first plan doesn’t work. Strategy is your mind working all the livelong game/match to adapt and change while you are still playing the game.
Coolest thing ever: Failed strategies lead to adaptability and/or new strategies.
I have many things I want to accomplish in the new year, instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to cash in on some of these beauties and see where they take me. They’ve been good to me so far. Happy New Year, athletes!
Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer and social media consultant in Phoenix, AZ. She holds her Crossfit L1 Trainer Certification as well as the CrossFit Mobility Certification and an undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is part of the strength and conditioning coaching team for AZ Epic Volleyball at CrossFit Fury and has written for Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury and the CrossFit Games. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball.
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