Court Your Sport: Using the love of your sport for motivation
Colleen Sager, M.S., Sport Psychology Consultant
Have you ever noticed that being a competitive athlete is much like being in a romantic relationship? Both require commitment; a willingness to work on the problems that inevitably will arise, and when everything is going smooth, your self-confidence gets a boost. There may also be times when you question if the hard work is worth continuing the relationship. It’s during these challenging times that you need to remind yourself why and how you fell in love in the first place.
With the reality of 2020 being a race-less season for many athletes, the motivation to commit to training is quickly dwindling. Here are some tips to help you court your sport – using the love you have for being an athlete to motivate you.
Be honest, how committed are you to your sport? Sure, you’ve hired a coach, you eat a balanced diet most of the time, you stick to your training plan, but can you do more? In order to be truly committed, you have to love it all the time, not just when things are going good. WOW, this being an athlete thing really IS like being in a long-term relationship. So, how committed are you? Is this just a fling, or do you see yourself in this for the long run? However you define your relationship with your sport, make sure your level of commitment matches your relationship status.
Fall in love with your talent:
What was it about your sport that initially caught your eye? Was it a desire to develop the talent necessary to compete, or did you already possess the skills and you wanted to improve on them? Remind yourself what it was about your talent that you fell in love with. When we are doing the things we love, it makes the hard work possible. Much like in a relationship when you look at your partner and you are reminded what it is about them you love so much, start to look at your talents in the same way. You can’t have a good attitude about your sport if you don’t love your talents.
Work on your weaknesses:
While you thought about your athletic ability – what you are you good at and why you love your sport – you might have also thought about what your weaknesses are. Having a weakness in your sport, is not a bad thing. Ask any professional athlete what their weak spot is when it comes to their sport, not only will they admit they have one or several, but they will also tell you what they are doing to improve on that weakness. Going back to our relationship analogy, every relationship has areas that could use a little tweaking – so ask yourself, “what are my weaknesses and what am I doing to improve them?”
Don’t let the fact that you have areas of your sport that need attention distract you from thinking positively. William James was a professor of psychology at Harvard University after years of research on the brain and human behavior, he wrote, “People tend to become what they think about themselves”. Reminding yourself every day how committed you are to your sport, what it is that you love about it, and how to improve on it keeps your sport fun allowing you to find the motivation to continue training through the good times and the bad.
Remember, loving something or someone doesn’t mean it won’t feel like work to you, it means that you feel the work you do for it is all worth it.
If you have specific questions for Colleen, or would like more information about working with her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.