In today’s world of sports, being at the top of the pack is all about being bigger, faster, and stronger. And sure, chasing these attributes is bound to give you a competitive edge. What few people realize, however, is that one of the most powerful qualities an athlete can possess is that of being authentic.
An authentic athlete plays a sport because they WANT to, not because they should, have to, or need to. This desire to play not only increases excitement and energy, but naturally induces a high level of engagement. Without the mental stress that comes with having to play or needing to play, an athlete that wants to play actually has more brain power available for use, leading to enhanced performance.
Another telltale sign of an authentic athlete is that they find pure joy in their sport. Approaching the field with a mindset of joy is not only physically and mentally pleasurable, but it helps the athlete access what is commonly known as “flow.” Flow, or being in the zone, is a state of hyper focus and awareness that improves one’s ability to perform at their highest potential.
Physical health is also of great importance to the authentic athlete. Because their desire to play is so strong, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their body in optimal shape. They follow healthy eating habits, stay hydrated, and understand the positive effects of steady sleep patterns.
So what happens when an authentic athlete does become hampered by injury? They seek and find opportunities to stay highly involved. They focus on coaching and emotionally supporting their teammates. They study opponents and offer their insights. They are eager to get back on the field yet they do not force a speedy recovery, knowing that the best way to support to team is to heal properly. Put simply, they understand that injury is a part of being a competitive athlete and they refuse to let it get in the way of fully experiencing their sport.
Coaches, if you’re faced with one spot to fill and on the fence with your decision, lean towards the athlete that is more authentic.
By Amanda Clements, CPC
Amanda Clements is a certified, professional life coach and the owner of Beyond the Game, LLC in Maryland. She focuses on the use of coaching techniques to help athletes and coaches achieve peak performance both on and off the field.