"I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win. " - Michael Jordan
College bound athletes need to have a competitive nature to play college sports. They need extraordinary drive and motivation to succeed and survive being a college student and an athlete. University athletics is significantly different compared to being a regular student. An athlete’s skill, speed and agility is crucial to their athletic success, but the inherently competitive nature and discipline is what helps athletes be successful students.
The first thing you will notice as a student-athlete is the training sessions are longer, more frequent and the workload in the classroom is substantially greater than what you are used to. College is made up of Men and Women teams; you are no longer an age group competitor. Your new teammates will be bigger, stronger and faster.
Often a student-athlete will have an internal struggle between mind and body. An athlete's body is capable of training at great lengths but a lack of mental strength can make athletes doubt their abilities. In modern elite sports, training your mind is as important as training your body. For athletes to stay positive they need to understand that self-doubt exists, but with persistence, you will master it. Athletes do this by creating small achievable goals for every training session, the achievement of these goals helps to remain positive and competitive.
Winners go out and make it happen; losers make excuses why they failed. Many people believe that "Good things come to those who wait." This thought process is not going to take an athlete to the next level. A good coach will never say to their team, "If we are meant to win, we will." Being a winner is so much more than that. Winners have a clear path to success, they plan, work hard and use their competitive nature to take the win away from their opponents.
There is a great story about an aspiring college athlete by the name Chris Lofton. Chris was an exceptional basketball talent in high school and was given the nickname “Mr Basketball”. When the time came to play in college, he was overlooked by many top universities. Chris began to doubt his abilities and often said to himself that he wasn’t tall enough, he wasn’t quick enough and his defense was not good enough. The one skill Chris truly believed in was that his shooting of the basketball was second to none. This belief finally led him to join the University of Tennessee. After Chris had finished college, he went on to play professionally in France and is still remembered at Tennessee for holding the record for the most 3-point shots made. What very few people know is that during college Lofton was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Not only did he overcome self-doubt, the rigorous schedule of being a Division 1 student-athlete but he overcame cancer too!
Everyone has difficulties to overcome. If you want to be a winner, you need to remind yourself of what is it that you want, and set clear attainable goals to help you follow through. Being a student athlete is not as easy or as glamorous as the movies. If you remain positive and you achieve your goals, you will overcome your challenges. Remember, "Winners never quit and quitters never win." So never give up; you only fail the moment you stop trying.