What it Takes to Succeed in a Sport

sprinter at the blocksMany of us play sports just for fun. They’re a great way to blow off some steam, socialise with friends, meet new people, and stay fit and healthy. All forms of exercise offer many of these benefits but competing with friends or complete strangers adds another layer of fun. 

For some people, playing a sport is enough for enjoyment. But for those of us with a more competitive side, the fun is in striving for success. 

Although some people may be naturally gifted, most people have to work at honing their sporting skills. For some that might mean getting better ball control skills or improving their swing. 

No matter what sport you play or what skills you need to improve, the majority of the steps to succeeding are the same. Even sports that are mostly sedentary such as poker have many of the same key elements for success. So if you’d like to up your game, consider incorporating these steps into your preparations. 

Focus on Fitness

Whatever sport you do, it’s important to keep your physical fitness up. As you become tired and your muscles lose their strength, your brain begins to focus on the tiredness and pain. This means you can’t keep your mind on the proper technique or the important strategic and tactical decisions that need to be made in the heat of battle. 

Building up your strength and your stamina also gives you the advantage of being able to push harder and for longer that your opponent. This pushes them into making mistakes and being unable to think as clearly, giving you an advantage. 

Being fit, flexible, and strapping can also help you stave off injuries, something that is common among sportspeople. 

Even esports players, who compete mostly while sitting down, have strict fitness regimes to help keep them mentally and physically sharp during long gaming sessions. The strength they build by doing this helps them to prevent repetitive strain injuries and back pain while they play. 

Often, you’ll be able to combine building your fitness but it is also likely that you’ll need to do a little more on top as well. 

women sprinters racing on a track

Practice

The old saying “practice makes perfect” is something you should take to heart. There is simply no way that you’ll improve your skills to a level that will allow you to succeed without repeatedly honing your craft. 

As you do this, you’ll build your muscle memory, so you can move in the right way without even having to think about it.

Some sports are easy to practice at home. For example, if you’re a football player then you can set up some cones in your garden, however, if you’re into motor racing, you’re not going to be able to build a go kart track around your house. 

You can still find ways to improve certain skills. For example, using devices to improve your reaction times can help you to make faster decisions, while there are special pucks that are designed to mimic the behaviour of a standard ice hockey puck when on hard surfaces like concrete. 

Get Your Head Right

Succeeding in sport is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one. That’s why professional athletes often spend time working with a sports psychologist to help them get into the right headspace ahead of a game. 

You don’t necessarily need to shell out for a sports psychologist though. There are also some simple steps you can take to help yourself.

One of the most important ones is to control your emotions. When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to get angry, but this is going to lead to you making mistakes. It’s also important to focus only on the present, whatever has happened in the past is now out of your control. In the same vein, you shouldn’t focus too much on the future, as while being strategic is helpful if you’re in a league title fight, it’s easy to let the pressure get to you.

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