There are so many people around the world, that wonder what is everyday of an athlete like and what does it take to truly be one.
We find many people (athletes included as well) who do not have a clear understanding of what is needed to be an actual athlete, in any kind of sport. It is like when a friend of mine once asked me “why do soccer and basketball players get paid so much for just kicking or shooting a ball?” I will be honest with you. At first, I though he was joking, but actually he wasn’t. That question got me really surprised and I tried to explain everything to him in detail.
My point is that many people don’t really know what kind of lifestyle and hard work an athlete does, in order to kick a ball or perform any kind of sport. And unfortunately there are many athletes as well, who don’t really know what is right and wrong in their every day sports life. Those specific athletes find it difficult to reach their goals and also find it hard to proceed with their career or any career eventually.
There are thousands of successful athletes out there and it would be a shame not taking examples from them. It does not matter if you are playing basketball, volleyball or driving a formula one car. The concept is the same. The sports life to be followed in any professional sport, is way different from regular people in any other kind of job. Being an athlete is not only a hobby but it is also a job.
If you want to be an athlete and be proud of what you have achieved in the near future, then you have to take a different path than others.
Within this post, I want to help you understand the life of an athlete and what is needed to “sacrifice” from youth life to Pro life in order to call yourself a real athlete. And when looking back after some years, you will be able to say that “I have worked really hard and I deserve to be where I am now”.
Everything Starts From a Young Age
When I was a kid, I remember myself studying my homework just after lunch and then off with my bike to the stadium for training (I was lucky because the distance from my house was just 10 minutes away from the stadium). This was happening for about 5 years (during high school) and I saw it as my every day MUST schedule. It kept me doing my homework and my training and I was happy about it. I had a clear schedule in my mind.
As soon as you start following a specific schedule that will lead you to training from a younger age, then the sooner it will give you the mental strength to do it for years. It doesn’t matter if you are young and sometimes you fool around or get distracted. If you want to become an athlete then you MUST have a schedule and always stick to it.
Adapting To A Different Lifestyle Than Your Peers
What does a different lifestyle means? It means a lot of small things that most people would consider coming from another world. As a society we have learned to follow the crowds and most of the times this brings negative facts in our road. This is why athletes should be heading to a totally different path and lifestyle than others in their age. I am sure you all have friends who once told you “Hey why don’t you go out with us? There is a great party going on downtown. You can give yourself a break from training tomorrow”. This is usually the most common question you would hear from your peers.
Has it crossed your mind to just go, have fun and relax a bit with them? Who says no to a party? Well, you should! You need to be strong enough to say no. Attending a party will feel nice on that night, but what happens with your training the next morning or next afternoon? You think it will not affect your performance? Or that your coach will not figure out that you went out (at least without their permission)?
Don’t waste your time on parties just yet. There will be lots of time for that (in case, you like parties) when you finish your career and you can freely do whatever you like. That is why you need to be strong enough to say no to things that can affect your training and hard work. Being an athlete is a commitment to yourself and at the same time to your sport.
You must always keep in mind that every person is unique. Each one of your peers will follow their own schedule in life and that’s not something wrong. On the contrary it is just different. And you as an athlete will be different. But you must respect their schedule and they must respect yours. If at some point you realize that any of your peers doesn’t respect your schedule and needs, then I would harshly say they should not be on your list of peers. And I am saying that realistically not egoistically. Do not get hold back from other people’s mindset, as this will have consequences to your schedule and eventually your sports career. Instead, try to connect with people that have a similar lifestyle with you. That will make it easier for you to avoid distractions and keep focusing on your schedule.
I have talked with teenager athletes who told me that they feel their coaches or their sport in general, requires following strict rules for everything and have very tight schedules. When I asked them what would they prefer, they said that they would like a more relaxed schedule and not so many rules from their coaches. In case, you are one of those thinking like athletes, then I would strongly suggest you to upgrade your thinking. If you want to call yourself an athlete then you must follow the rules of your sport and of course your coaches. Not because you have to please others, but because this is the only way to take it seriously and focus for your better future.
Don’t Get Distracted By The Small Things In Life
Lets remember the time when Michael Jordan was just a rookie with the Chicago Bulls. In away games, the team was staying in hotels on the night before each game. One of those nights at an away game, he was asked by some of his teammates if he wanted to join them at one of their teammates hotels rooms. Jordan asked them why.. They said they would all relax, smoke a bit, drink some beer, play cards and eventually staying up late. I am sure you understand what was his answer to them. He didn’t like it at all. He wanted to be in great shape not only during a game but also in each training and he would never risk his performance for that kind of things.
Taking the example of Jordan, you should understand that small things are not the ones to give you what you are looking for in your career. Instead, it will create troubles to you. How many times did you hear that athletes contracts were dismissed due to their out of sports life? Probably a lot. And then those athletes find it difficult to sign with a new club due to their troubled past.
So that brings us to the fact, that your sports life is as well depended on your out of sports life. Focus on your schedule, your lifestyle, training and your performance. Avoid distractions. Is it so hard to do that for yourself? I don’t think so!
It Gets More Serious When You Are A Pro
Becoming a Pro doesn’t mean you can stop or settle down. There is a very thin line between achieving one of your goals and thinking that you are now over. Everything starts after you become a Pro. This is were the real stuff happens. This is the point to get going even harder and all your youth “sacrifices’ will pay off in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Why?
The why is very simple. As you get used to following your schedule, the rules of the game and athletic lifestyle, then the easier will be to keep going. You will as well discover new aspects, different approaches-especially more professional ones and new type of athletes (some would be exceptional examples and some might be examples to avoid).
When you are a Pro there is a chance to feel more lonely. I have seen athletes experiencing that. It becomes your job, your hobby and your family, all in one. And that is fine because you become more focused on your needs, improvement and that leads you to have better results. Of course, you will still have people around you from your past and you might start a family but your sport will always be your sport. And your performance at it, will depend solely on YOU.
You should know that no one is perfect. If you miss training with a good excuse, then that’s fine. After all, we are all humans and not machines. But if you keep missing training for the wrong reasons then you will just be fooling yourself. Training is like marriage. You can’t cheat on it and expect it to work.
There will be exemptions during your every day sports schedule but everything should be done at the right time and place (during off-season might be a good opportunity to spend more time with friends, relax or attend a party). If by any chance you feel down psychologically for any reason (tired of training, tired of following your everyday schedule) then don’t hesitate talk to a sports psychologist, or your agent, or your teammates or your coaches. Talking to others who can relate with you, can save you from a lot of trouble.
In order to conclude this post, you must realize that everyday of an athlete from youth to Pro, needs “sacrifices”. If you are willing to do that, then you will highly improve your chances of having a successful career. I know the life of an athlete is not an easy task and a very demanding one, but what I know for sure is:
When you truly love what you do, then you will be willing to change towards a better YOU!
P.S. Feel free to share this post and leave a comment below with any questions or ideas or even your own experiences. I would be happy to hear from you.