Anyone who has watched Lionel Messi on the soccer field, Serena Williams in a tennis match or clips of Michael Jordan playing basketball probably agrees that they all share one thing in common; all of them have a way of making their respective – highly demanding – sport of choice appear effortless and easy to the spectator.
In light of the above, one might question what exactly makes certain athletes stand out in their field as professionals. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth and the University of Bath in the UK inter alia explored the mindsets of some of the most well renowned athletes around; they found that they all carry a set of similar characteristics and that the abilities shared are far from just natural-born. Excellent athletes were found to stand out both on a personal as well as an environmental level, as they oftentimes were proven to have high-quality relationships, a good support system, adequate desire and motivation, commitment to excel, concentration skills, self-belief, ability to set goals and a positive state of mind.
In addition, top athletes were found to be optimistic and self-critical in a constructive way. They were aware of the areas in their lives that required improvement, while maintaining an urge to work on any deficiencies. Dr. Daniel Brown, who worked on the study, pointed out that it is the combination of enabling factors such as support, trust in oneself, and an appreciation of, trust in and commitment to the development process which contribute to making someone an elite athlete whilst also enjoying the process.
In this article we will explore this subject further and focus on activities which enhance your skills as an athlete.
As an athlete your main asset is your physical ability, irrespective of the sport you are engaged in. However, whether you’re playing at your local college, professionally or with a group of friends solely for your well-being, there are several activities you can take on so as to enhance your skills. One of these is to work on your strategic ability, which is defined as a mental or thinking process that an individual applies within the context of achieving a goal or a set of goals in a game or other activity. You can do this by taking up poker, an ancient, classic game which has gained popularity through the vast assortment of online options and sites available. Amongst other things, these online platforms indicate where to find poker rooms such as in New Jersey where online poker has been prevalent since November 2013.
Reading up on sports psychology
Excellent athletes oftentimes have an excellent mindset, a trait one can enhance through research and dedication. Buy books on neuroscience, psychology and behavioural science and dig into what you can do yourself to prepare your mind for success and winning whilst adapting to defeat in a constructive, non-debilitating way.
Oddly enough, rest is just as important as physical performance for a top athlete. Rest and recovery allows high level athletes to adapt to the stress related to exercise, in addition to replenishing muscle glycogen (energy stores). Moreover, a body in rest provides well needed time for the body tissue to repair. Anyone interested in enhancing their athletic qualities should therefore invest in mindfulness, sleep and other relaxing activities such as saunas, deep tissue massages and yin yoga in between training sessions.