Qualities of a Great Athlete

CONFIDENCE:  An athlete displays a quiet inner confidence based on preparation. His own preparation, that of his individual teammates and their collective combined preparation. Confidence is a belief based on your daily work habits and the resulting continuous and constant progress made. This kind of confidence is contagious within a team, built as athletes subject themselves to tough challenges and practices, learn the value in hard work and discover the ability to problem solve on their own. These athletes develop a positive attitude, become unafraid of failure and remain confident when faced with adversity. They prepare hard every day. When success follows, athletes tell you it’s because of the effort they put into preparation.

The non-athlete has a false confidence. His confidence is not built on preparation but on factors not under his control. He might be blessed with great athleticism, but will rely on the team to carry him as he plays tentatively and with fear of making a mistake. He does not put forth the same effort or attention into practices as do the athletes on the team. He fails to prepare properly for success when away from the team environment. He does just enough but expects every reward earned by the athletes around him.

 Having True Confidence is a Choice

TEACHABLE SPIRIT: Athletes want to learn and improve. They bring enthusiasm to daily work and strive for continuous improvement every day. They know that correction happens because a coach sees potential in them to get better. They have learned to take correction as a compliment and to look at correction as an opportunity to improve. The athlete responds to correction with verbal and physical cues that he is listening and learning.

The non-athlete looks at any correction as criticism, and often responds with an excuse. The non-athlete allows discipline to be an obstacle to improvement instead of a learning experience and opportunity for growth in character.

 Having a teachable spirit is a choice.

PRIDE:  The pride of an athlete is a shared one. It is found in the team spirit that is shared only by those who have prepared together to pursue and achieve a common goal. Pride is a feeling among team members that no one on the outside can understand. Shared pride involves a desire to become as good as possible not only for yourself but also for your teammates. It involves accountability, dedication and unselfishness. Team pride is developed in parts of the game that require more effort than skill, where determination is more important than talent.  For example, when the ball is lost everyone hustles to get back behind the ball.

The pride of a non-athlete is self-oriented, often selfish. Such players often develop a “sense of entitlement“, where he thinks athletic skill should guarantee special treatment including his own time schedule and expects other allowances to be made for him. The self-important athlete places himself before the team often worrying more about his own playing time or position on the field than the success of the team. In the eyes of the non-athlete success is thought of in individual terms. For example, the non-athlete describes events from a personal perspective using the word “I” instead of “we” taking individual credit for team accomplishments.

Developing the right kind of pride is a choice.

ACCOUNTABILITY: The athlete is responsible and demonstrates it when he accepts personal accountability for what happens to him. When things are not going well, he looks at himself first to see what he can act upon to make a difference. He becomes a problem solver, better able to cope with stress and more likely to persevere when facing difficulties. He desires to be a part of the solution instead of dwelling on the problem. He knows that if you are not making steady improvement, you are losing ground to those athletes who are.

The non-athlete blames everyone but himself when things do not go well. He often focuses on things he cannot control rather than those he can. He is always quick with an excuse and criticism of teammates, coaches, referees, the weather, field conditions and anything else he can attach blame to as long as he doesn’t have to accept responsibility for or be accountable to his team for his part in the difficulty encountered.

 Being accountable is a choice.


COMPETITIVE PERSEVERENCE: The athlete and great teams are not deterred by bumps in the road. Since he is committed to continuous improvement, he can recover quickly from a mistake and refuse to remain discouraged. Positive, competitive, persevering athletes are “mentally tough”, a quality that allows an individual to remain confident, enthusiastic and focused in the face of adversity. It is not possible to break the competitive spirit of mentally tough athletes even in defeat. They can lose to an opponent ten times in a row and still look forward to the next rematch. The athlete with a competitive spirit welcomes challenges and looks forward to the toughest competitions as tests of themselves and their team.

A non-athlete is easily discouraged and allows failures and disappointments to interfere with today and tomorrow. Non-athletes are unable to recover quickly from mistakes and often seek excuses instead of solutions.

Perseverance and Positive Attitude are Choices.


DISCIPLINE is nothing more than focused attention and effort. To be successful individually or collectively, sacrifices involving discipline must be made. Great athletes not only accept discipline, they embrace it for the benefit of the team. They have the strength of character to overcome temptations to take short cuts in preparation. They will face pressure with the desire to do what’s right for their team at the moment of truth. Discipline is exhibited by being attentive, enthusiastic, always displaying sportsmanship, demonstrating respect for authority and taking personal responsibility. Because they display “athletic integrity“, disciplined athletes are better teammates. They are reliable, trustworthy, prompt and always there for their teammates. For a team, discipline can be the characteristic that sets them apart and gives them an edge.

The non-athlete chooses self-indulgence (“I’ll do what I want!”) over self-control and only thinks of discipline in terms of punishment.

Accepting Discipline is a Positive Form of Teamwork

It is also a CHOICE.


TEAM FIRST:  Teamwork is a rare gift that allows ordinary people to attain extraordinary results. The process of becoming a good teammate is one based on decision-making, attitude and making positive choices, especially and specifically making the choice of interdependence over independence. The athlete intentionally puts the needs of the team ahead of his own desires.  The athlete will strive to NEVER let his teammates down. He understands that everyone on a team has a different role and that only when all work cooperatively together can the team be at its strongest. On a great team all roles have equal value. The athlete understands that great teams are made up of athletes who have given up the quest for individual glory, who willingly and wholeheartedly commit themselves to the team effort. Sports provide many individually satisfying memories, but for the true athlete, nothing can compare with the memories built from being part of something bigger than himself.

The non-athlete is a selective participant, looking to satisfy his own needs first by being selfish with his effort, attention or behavior. The non-athlete is all about “me” while the athlete is all about “we.”


The athlete understands that quality performance is all about quality decision making with a team first attitude

It is all about making the correct choices.

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