By Mark V. Lonsdale
What makes a winner, and more importantly, how do you become a winner?
First and foremost, you need to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you have what it takes to succeed at whatever you set your mind to. Ask yourself if you are a fit, motivated, and tenacious individual. In other words, couch potatoes need not apply.
Next, not everyone can be good at everything, so select an activity that fires your imagination. Keep in mind that you are about to embark on a journey that will consume many hours of each day, five to six days a week, and years of your life. Accept that you will have to sacrifice other activities and personal interests to achieve your goals. Your training will become your passion.
Be prepared to train longer, harder, and smarter than your peers. Every day that you slack off, your opponents are training and improving. That said, it is also important to allow time for muscles to rest, recover, and adapt to the new demands.
Become a professional student of your chosen sport or activity. Read books and articles from those who have gone before you. Attend training seminars and clinics with national and international champions and coaches. Part of the journey will be trying new things and experimenting with your tactics and techniques.
Set training goals. These should be small incremental steps that you can meet and exceed in a reasonable amount of time. These will often be based on improved performance in training, to include strength and stamina, and then replicating that performance on game day in competition. Goals can also include placing at the local level, medaling at the state level, and then ultimately taking gold on the national stage.
Be prepared to travel and to attend every competition you can. There is no substitute for competition experience and having the opportunity to observe and compete against the best. Competition experience also builds the mental toughness essential to becoming a winner.
Have a friend or coach video your performance in competition for post event self-analysis. The objective is not to celebrate your successes but to analyze your failures and flaws. Future training should be designed to turn weaknesses into strengths.