Becoming a better athlete is not just about being better at a particular sport; it involves a lot more than that. The definition of an athlete is a person who is proficient at a sport and/or other forms of physical exercises. How to become a better athlete shouldn’t be about beating everyone else but rather beating yourself and forming a better version of yourself with every day that passes.
So how do I become a better athlete than what I already am (if I’m already an athlete)? There’s no easy answer to this but rather a broad spectrum of ideas and strategies that aid you on your journey to becoming a better athlete. Maybe you aren’t already an athlete and are just now starting; this article will help people like you as well.
Set a Goal
Whether you’re already an athlete and trying to take your fitness to the next level or you’re just now starting out, setting a goal should be your first act to becoming an athlete. The importance of setting a goal in our personal fitness journey is often under-looked. People may have a broad or general goal but it is often helpful to be specific about it.
The more specific your goal is, the more clearly you can see yourself achieving it.
Your goal becomes less realistic in your mind when you view a general version of it. When you look at the details in your goal, you can accomplish them (maybe step-by-step) a lot easier because you set forth a blueprint for yourself of your journey and the baby-steps that will get you to your goal.
But what do I mean with “specific”? How specific should one be with their goals? Here are some examples of ways to see a goal instead of a general view of them:
- General: “I want to become a better runner”
- Specific: “I want to improve my endurance so that I am able to complete 1 mile in under 6 minutes”
- General: “I want to become stronger”
- Specific: “I want to be able to bench-press 250lbs 2 months from today”
- General: “I want to become a better basketball player”
- Specific: “I want to improve my speed & agility with the ball and improve my accuracy for my shots”
- General: “I want to become a better cross-fitter”
- Specific: “I want to be able to complete a Fran WOD in under 4 minutes”
- General: “I want to look more muscular”
- Specific: “I want to be more lean and increase muscle size so that I am 10lbs heavier by 3 months from today
These (and more) are ways to re-visualize your goals so that you are able to more easily achieve them. Now, when I say “easily achieve them” I’m not saying that the work to get there will minimize itself. Becoming a better version of ourselves takes hard work and that level of hard work will not be going down. When I say that it will become easier, I am referring to your mentality (which is the #1 component of achieving your goal) to get there. Putting a specific time-frame, for example, pushes you to meet a reasonable deadline, thus keeping you on your path.
The trick is focusing on the endpoint, not the challenges that make it hard to get there.
Also, keeping the right mentality to achieve a specific goal leads me to the next tip to becoming a better athlete…
When you keep a specific goal in mind and see a more clear path towards that goal, you are also able to stay consistent. Consistency is the key to achieving your goal but your mentality is what keeps you consistent. Assuming that you want to increase your endurance to be a better runner, you’re not going to get there by running a marathon today, a mile next week and then maybe a sprint workout next month.
It’s good to incorporate different types of exercises to achieve a goal but random times of implementing these exercises into your yearly or monthly schedule while also having huge rest periods in between will not help you achive your goals.
Make a schedule. If it’s tough to fit your workout in throughout the day because you work too many hours, sacrifice some social media and sleep time to go to bed a little earlier and wake up early enough to go on a daily workout. If you have extra free-time one day of the week, maybe you can use it to do a little extra for your goal instead of looking at your friend’s Instagram story.
Most of us like to hop into bed and get on our phone right before sleeping but don’t realize how much time we’ve ended up spending on our phones when we could’ve been spending that time sleeping to wake up a little earlier the next day and getting certain priorities out of the way.
Train consistently, every single day matters.
Be Absolutely Willing to be Uncomfortable
There’s a famous quote by Les Brown that says: “A champion’s workout doesn’t begin until pain arrives”. This statement is so immensely truthful. You aren’t going to force your body to be where you want it to be without pushing it to its limits.
That being said, this doesn’t imply that you overexert your body to a point of brink and you end up injuring yourself. What this means is, in time of training, you have to be willing to push your body to its max. This isn’t a comfortable spot to be in, it hurts… and it hurts a lot! But through this pain comes a promising reward.
You won’t achieve the results you want in the time you want to achieve them by doing 10 reps of everything once a day without feeling any type of discomfort. Maybe at the beginning you might feel different or see a little difference but your body will eventually get used to what you’re doing and you won’t see much change.
Your body was made to adapt so make it adapt to what you’re putting it through. Once it’s adapted, push it further so to continue this adaption process further to harder exertion levels. Do this, and you WILL achieve promising results.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Failure is part of the journey. Failure is how we learn. Failure is how we push ourselves. If you couldn’t get that last rep in, no matter how hard to pushed, you’ve learned something. 1. You’ve pushed your body to its max. 2. Because you’ve pushed your body to its max it now has to adapt to what you pushed it through.
So maybe next time you do this workout again, you’ll be able to finish the last rep. That’s the beauty of how our body works! It’s nearly limitless when you have the right mentality.
The ability to learn from failure isn’t only something that helps you on your fitness journey but something that helps you in your daily life. Don’t look at failure as something negative, reflect and learn from it and you’ll see how much positivity you can obtain from that.
Putting It All Together
In case it hasn’t become obvious already, all these tips were directed towards your mentality. This is because the majority of the battle is with your own mind. This may sound very cliche but if you think about it… your body will make changes (negative or positive) accordingly to what your activities are.
If all you do is sit around and not do any physical activity, your body will reflect that. But if you keep your body up and moving, it will reflect that behavior as well with its physical attributes and capabilities.
Your body will simply follow what you put it through, so the real tough part is changing your mentality to continuously push your body so that it reflects your positive behavior.
Also, though I did not mention it in this article. Keep a healthy relationship between the food you eat and your body and stay consistent with it.
Personally, I don’t even like to refer to eating habits as “diet” because of the general idea that it is a restriction from certain foods; it shouldn’t feel like a restriction but rather a habitual way of eating. Don’t ignore your eating habits for they are a vital component to putting all of this together.