3 characteristics of the best athletes
People often ask, what are the features of the very best athletes? Having coached, observed, studied, collaborated, spent time and spoken with athletes for my entire life, here are the three (3) characteristics. Note: I have chosen not to include talent, because talent is a pre-requisite. However, tenacity is more important than talent.
1) Passion- The best possess an unquenchable thirst to see how good that they can become & they LOVE their sport. This passion translates into a willingness and desire for hard work. Dale Earnhardt was once in an accident and could not finish his next race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He started the race, but they had to remove him from the car. Here was the greatest racecar driver, basically crying, because they had to take him out of the car. He said, “ Nobody loves anything more than my driving a racecar.”
2) Competitiveness- The best athletes love to compete and put themselves in situations that test their skills. The competitiveness is more than just beating others; it is the feeling that they get from testing themselves under pressure. I often witness athletes even outside of their own sport, remain so competitive to win regardless of the event (e.g., checkers, sit-ups, darts, pogo-stick, etc.). They may fear losing, but they don’t succumb to that fear, they have an inner confidence that they continually compete. As Jimmy Connors once stated, “I hate to lose, more than I love to win.”
3) Another Gear- If you listen to quality sports announcers close enough, they mention how certain players can change speeds. For example, Emmitt Smith holds the record for career rushing yardage in the NFL, and while few state that he is the best ball carrier of all time, he was nonetheless able to hit the gap successfully and turn downfield—He had another gear. The best are able to muster up the inner fortitude and the “it” factor which allows them to finish strong. They simply have another gear…
These skills may be more innate with the best, but they can be learned and cultivated. Honestly assess your own mental game and answer which of these characteristics do you possess and which one’s need strengthened.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness. His 2nd book is titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness. Follow on twitter @drrobbell or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness .