Self-Discipline: In Sport and in Life

On a little more serious note….

In my early years as a team psychologist working with a professional team, I doubted the concept that how hard an athlete practiced had an effect on how well or how poorly he/she played in a game. My thoughts about practice and game performance came about by watching some very talented athletes who practiced poorly and then played well in games. It took some convincing but over time, I came to see that the effort these athletes put into practice did in fact affect their game and more.

The attitude of the talented players was: what is the point in working so hard in practice when I play well enough in games? These athletes did play well but over the long-term, I observed that the overall endurance of these athletes did in fact suffer. Their physical conditioning and stamina suffered and their specific sport skills stagnated while their fellow teammates continued to get better and better. Such poor practice habits also affected the team. These athletes began to lose the respect of their teammates. This occurred because their teammates saw this lackadaisical approach to practice as showing off, being arrogant, and not wanting to be a part of the team…..they were perceived as thinking they were better than the other players who practiced hard. Resentment of these more skilled players began to grow and, if the coach allowed this to continue, the resentment grew bigger and bigger, eventually destroying the cohesiveness of the team.

Everyone has days when we just don’t want to go hard in practice. But if these days are occurring more and more frequently, you might want to think about a few things. One important thing to consider is whether you really are that interested in continuing to play this sport? You may have outgrown your interest and you may want a break or may want to find something else that motivates you more. But if you do enjoy playing your sport, then the question becomes: How good do you really want to be? Are you playing to get some exercise and be around some friends or are you interested in excelling, getting better, becoming the best you can be?

How you answer these questions may lead you to explore a more basic attitude. If you think you are good enough, then practicing hard will probably be hard for you to do. But if you truly want to excel but don’t like to work hard, you might need to think about developing the skill of self-discipline.

Self-discipline is a concept that has to do with doing the things that NEED to be done, instead of just doing those things that we WANT to do. Self-discipline is an attitude that leads to habits that lead to achieving our goals. This requires hard work. It means working hard in the boring classes and not just the ones that really interest you. It means doing the exercises and drills that we find boring and wears us out physically so we can be in the best possible shape or making the right decisions about what we do in our free time so that nothing interferes with what we want to do in life. The importance of practicing self-discipline cannot be underestimated. In life, it’s important to learn to be more organized in our daily routines, to not procrastinate on projects and do more than just get by. It’s important to exercise self-discipline in situations that may do us harm and to use this skill to make the right decisions when we’re with our friends.

Funny how self-discipline can make us not only a better athlete, but also make us better in “real-life.”

Stay tuned for some more “HeadTalk” from the Doc.

If you are interested in discussing your “Head” issue with me, you can contact me here or on my website: www.ProFormance-inc.com.

Use your Head to Stay in the Game.


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