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10 Skills Every Athlete Must Grow for Success

#1 Never lose sight of your goals
Every moment of every day should be focused in some small or large part toward action, which in turn allows you to achieve your goals. If you never looked at the clock or the calendar, how long would you work? If you are passionate about what you are doing or creating, you will work harder and longer. The goals you set must be challenging. At the same time, they should be realistic and attainable, not impossible to reach. Be sure to set long-term and short-term goals. Athletes with goals succeed, because they know where they’re going.

#2 Learn. Grow. Do.
Increase your knowledge as an athlete. Train to become experts in nutrition, physiology, psychology, recruiting, and the mechanics of your sport. You should constantly be learning so you can grow. Take action and apply what you learn to becoming stronger, faster, and more prepared. Make your mark.

#3 Sacrifice
There are many enjoyable things that are sacrificed by athletes in order to attain their goal. Your singular focus leads you to choose hard work and dedication above vacations, parties, hobbies and participating in other leisure sports. To succeed in life, we need to become comfortable with short-term sacrifice in order to enjoy long-term success. As many a coach has repeated, “keep your eye on the prize.”

#4 Lean on your support system
Athletes have an extensive support team that works with them, for them, and because of them. Teamwork is essential for success. Whether you’re a teammate, a parent, a coach, a teacher, a fan, or a friend, it’s your support that helps an athlete continue to be successful.

#5 Plan for the future
Don’t lose site of your skill to plan, prepare, and execute just because your athletic career has ended. Plan for what is next and switch your energy to the next challenge in your life. Whether the challenge is school, volunteer work, starting your own company, coaching your own team, marriage, family, etc., it’s important to accept the changes. Taking on new opportunities is essential for continuing success in your life.

#6 Check your attitude
Attitude is a choice. Choose an attitude that is predominately positive. Being an athlete gives you the opportunity to compete against yourself and learn from your own successes and failures. Pursue excellence, not perfection. Try to maintain balance and perspective between your sport and the rest of your daily life. Respect your coaches, teammates, officials, parents, fans, opponents, and remember to respect yourself.

#7  Get motivated
Be aware of the rewards and benefits you experience through your sport as an athlete. Persevere through difficult times, even when the rewards and benefits are not immediately forthcoming. Keep in mind that many of the benefits come from your participation, not the outcome.

#8  Communicate
As athletes, you are part of a larger system that includes your families, friends, teammates, coaches, and even your fans. Be open to communicating your thoughts, feelings, and needs to this circle-they are your support system. Communication will help improve your people skills so you can better deal with conflict, difficult opponents, a negative crowd, and other oppositional situations.

#9  Visualize 
Use your imagination to prep yourself for competition. Create mental images that are detailed, specific, and realistic and use them during competition to prepare for action and recover from errors and poor performances.

 #10 Manage performance anxiety 
It’s natural for an athlete to feel anxious before a practice or a game. The secret is to accept anxiety as part of the sport and learn how to reduce it. Visualization can improve performance and develop confidence. Clear goals can also help manage high levels of anxiety. Try using relaxation techniques like breathing and muscle relaxation to help with physical symptoms. Finally, distract yourself. Talk to teammates or listen to music – whatever helps keep your mind from generating negative thoughts.

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