The 'It' Factor
You're probably thinking - what is 'it' I'm talking about? Well, the 'it' factor refers to the mindset of athletes. You either have 'it', work for 'it', or you don't.
I've referred to my brothers a lot in previous posts, and how they set an example for me growing up. Both my brothers and my parents taught me that if I really wanted something I must work for it. It's not just about showing up when you're asked to show up, its about what you've done leading up to that. As a young athlete I watched how my brothers trained in the off-season and how that would translate into their success during season. I too wanted to make sure I did everything in my power to be successful in my sport, even if that meant dedicating many hours outside of my already scheduled practices and games.
It definitely took time to get into the mindset. I'd try to make excuses, telling myself I'd do it later, or I was too tired ... but let me tell you - excuses will always be there, opportunity won't. Early on in high school I had a coach tell me I wouldn't amount to anything in basketball ... that's when 'it' clicked. There was no way I was going to let anyone stand in the way of my goals, I was going to do everything I needed to do, no matter how tired or how hard it was. I quickly realized that the hard work came off the court, behind closed doors when no one was there to cheer me on.
Now, things weren't all sunshine and rainbows just because I had a good work ethic. I still had many challenges along the way, and though sometimes I felt completely helpless - I knew I was doing absolutely everything in my control to be successful. Looking back on it now, the hard work did pay off even though I didn't see it right away.
Referring back to this 'it' factor; its the drive, the passion, the resiliency, and the grit you see from athletes. Note, the ones who get 'it', don't talk about 'it' - they know that actions speak louder than words.
As a strength coach, its sometimes hard for me to sympathize with athletes that half-ass their sport. Sure, they try hard at practice, but they are the last to come and the first to leave; no extra reps, no sacrifice of time, no additional effort. How do you expect to be successful at an elite level if you don't do anything to better yourself outside of your playing surface? You have to live and breathe your sport, or your music, or your activity - whatever you are passionate about. It takes dedication, long hours and lots of sweat, but if you really love it, you would do anything for it.
Do you have 'it'?