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10 Traits That Make a High Performing Athlete
What do Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, and Michael Phelps have in common?
19:07 23 May 2021
They are elite athletes within their fields with several accolades to their name. While physical strength and endurance play a significant role in sports, coaches believe athletic success also depends on psychological traits. Researchers conducted several studies at the University of Portsmouth and the University of Bath in the UK to find more about different traits that turn an average athlete into a superstar. Some of these traits are discussed below.
- Intense Concentration: Most people are easily distracted, and they struggle to focus on their ongoing tasks. However, successful athletes do not have this problem. They can shut meaningless and unnecessary thoughts out to focus on the present moment. It is all about the quality and depth of concentration. Not only does this improve their spatial awareness, but it also increases their coordination. Athletes have to focus on their sports to succeed and get an edge over rivals.
- Perfectionists: Elite athletes are obsessed with becoming the best in their field. They take every opportunity to improve their skills through lifelong dedication and decades of training. Athletes understand that they are their own best competitors. So, make an effort to improve at every turn. For example, Michael Phelps swims a minimum of 80,000 meters per week. He practices twice a day and spends approximately six hours a day in training. However, overtraining can become dangerous. Therefore, athletes usually have athletic directors with relevant educational backgrounds such as masters in athletic administration online or on-campus degrees to plan custom training programs.
- Motivation: Most top athletes started from the bottom. Their only goal was to reach the top of the ladder, and despite the odds, they made it. However, every athlete has their way of motivating themselves, and they may have to rediscover their motivation. When Usain Bolt began his sports career, his motivation was to clear his parent's debt. But after that, he set another goal for himself. Elite athletes know how to keep themselves in the game.
- Positivity: High-achieving athletes do not waste their time thinking about the negatives. They have a positive attitude towards their personal growth. Athletes continuously work on themselves and their deficiencies. However, they do consider these deficiencies as opportunities instead of weaknesses. This positive attitude helps them visualize success. Michael Jordan is one of the prominent examples of what it takes to keep a positive mindset, as he always tries to turn his perceived weaknesses into strengths.
- Confidence: The best athletes believe in themselves. It is as simple as that. No injury, loss, or weakness can make them think otherwise. They are confident that their daily training and work habits can help them face numerous challenges. This faith helps them navigate rough waters and leads them to successful paths.
- Support: While motivation is necessary to meet challenges, athletes need to have a support system. Experts believe that support systems improve confidence and motivate players on the sports ground. Sports stars often build strong relationships with others to keep them humble and motivated. They also invest in relationships with friends and family. Furthermore, athletes also try to foster a strong relationship with their teammates to improve their performance. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, one of America's most celebrated basketball players, also believes that support is necessary to foster team spirit.
- Resilience: Losses and injuries are a part of sports. Athletes have to undergo bittersweet experiences to return to the field with a high-level spirit. Resilience turns a good athlete into a great one. Sometimes an athlete will play with an injury just because they want to win. In 2008, Tiger Woods famously won the US Open with a torn ligament and broken knee.
- Humility: No one likes a show-off. While elite athletes are confident, they remain humble. They are the first people to acknowledge and accept their mistakes. An excellent sportsperson always gives credit where it is due. They appreciate their rivals upon their victory and follow a sportsman spirit. Some of the most successful athletes are humble people without an inflatable ego. Rafael Nadal is one of the most successful tennis players and a sports legend. He is also known as the most humble player in the world. According to Gilles Simon, his humility makes him a superstar because of his ability to start every tournament from scratch.
- Killer Instinct: Sometimes, winning means taking risks. Excellent players can forecast a well-timed header to turn a game. How many of you remember Chelsea's victory in the Champions League final in 2012? The football club was able to win the trophy after several near misses because their players did not back down. Didier Drogba was the star of the match who carried the team to a surprising win with his killer instinct.
- Leadership: Elite players exhibit their leadership skills both on and off the field. They are natural leaders who motivate others to do their best. They never lose their cool and work as a calming force in difficult situations. Excellent athletes are fearless leaders who are passionate and determined to lead their teams to success. They inspire their fellow team members and support them in crises.
While many experts believe that focus and concentration are the most vital traits, emotional resilience is also necessary. Every sport is eventually a game of wits that tests the mental and physical endurance of the players. Athletes must handle the pressure of the game and do it all with grace and humility.