Before a young child ever steps foot in an athletic arena, they typically must have some sort of motivation. Yes, I know there are some parents’ who force their child to play sports, but normally the child has some level of motivation to play the sport. For many children it’s just the idea of having fun and for others they’re really focused on winning. Whatever the reason is the first step towards competing at a high level or any level is motivation. Motivation is the all-important step that gets a person going. If you can’t motivate a person to do it, they typically won’t do it. Those that do participate without true motivation put forth very little effort in what they do.
After a person is motivated to start, it’s discipline that keeps them going. Let’s be honest; nobody stays motivated all day, every day. I always say that motivation gets you started in the race and discipline keeps you going throughout the race. I look at life like a marathon race and I know that I won’t be totally motivated throughout every turn in the race. Sports are no different. It’s easy to get an athlete motivated to play a game, but it’s typically difficult to get an athlete motivated for every practice. My first year playing college football was the most difficult year for me because I hadn’t established a high level of discipline to carry me through Two-A-Days when the motivation wore off. I arrived on campus with a high level of excitement and motivation because I was playing Division 1 college football. It didn’t take long however for the agony of Two-A-Days to drain that excitement out of me. What do you do when the excitement is gone? How do you keep going?
Without consistency you can never truly be successful at anything you do. Motivation and discipline will only take you to a certain level and then something else must take over. Habit is the secret ingredient that plays a part in long-term results. Motivation got me to the football stadium and through the first week of Two-A-Days. Discipline and determination got me through the majority of the remaining practices. It was habit however that kept me coming back year after year for 5yrs. It was habit that allowed me get up for those early morning workouts at 5am. It was habit that caused me to walk into the weight room day after day even when my body hurt to walk. Great motivation led to great discipline and great discipline led to great habits. “The successful person has the habit of doing the things that failures don’t like to do. The successful person doesn’t like to do them either, but his dislike is subordinated to the strength of his purpose.” – E.M. Gray
I could talk about the benefits of playing sports for days. The biggest benefit that I’ve always highlighted however is the fact that sports help youth develop discipline. Discipline plays a very important role in reaching goals. However, over the years I’ve learned that discipline can only take you so far as it relates to obtaining your dreams. It is consistency that ultimately gets you there and no one can truly be consistent without the development of habit. Everything we do on a daily basis is the result of a habit that was established sometime in the past. It is therefore important that we create habits on purpose and not on accident.