The Key To Athletic Success That Matters Most

What are the keys to athletic success?  It’s that golden bit of info that we all want to know.  In our modern society everyone wants the quick, to the point version of everything, so here it is:

  • Good genetics
  • An effective training plan
  • Hard work

Are there any surprises there?  Probably not for most of you.  But why are these three on the list? 

Genetics – It’s hard to argue with the importance of good genetics.  It’s a pretty good bet that kids that grow up to be Olympic sprinters were fast in elementary school.  At that young age they hadn’t done any drills to improve acceleration or stride length – they just ran.  As one of my college professors used to say, “pick your parent’s well”.

Training Plan–  How many times have you heard about some supposedly magical exercise that your athletes “must do”?   How many diferent types of training are there?  “Old school” training, “functional” training, HIIT, and the list goes on and on.  Which one works?  They can ALL work.  The key is designing a plan that safely and intelligently addresses the needs of YOUR athletes, in YOUR particular situation.  It’s like when my grandmother used to bake a favorite family dish:  she might look at the recipie but over the years she had learned what little adjustments she needed to make to so that it would turn out perfect.  The extra dash of this or that made all the differnce.  I could follow the same recipie and it would never turn out as good because I didn’t know how to make the necesary adjustments.  You can follow any plan that you want to, but you have got to know how to make it work for your athletes. 

Hard Work –Is there any doubt that this belongs on the list?  I was on the treadmill recently when an infomercial came on the tv for the Insanity workout.  (I try not to pay too much attention to the tv’s in the gym when I workout but they have about 25 tv’s.  I guess somebody must like to watch them.)  During the infomercial it struck me that in all of the scenes, people were working very hard.  That’s why they were able to make positive changes in themselves – they were willing to WORK HARD!!  Isn’t the same true with our athletes?  If they are willing to work hard they will make positive changes.  We have all seen kids that were not the most gifted athletically, but they worked hard every day to get better.  Now think about the gifted athletes you may have worked with, both with good and bad work habits.   The world of athletics is littered with athletes with “great potential” who never fulfilled that potential.  Why?  Because they didn’t like to WORK, either on the practice field, in the weightroom, or in the classroom. 

Probably the greatest challenge in coaching, especially today, is motivating kids to work hard.  It isn’t always easy, and can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out.  Even so, you must find a way.  Yes, genetics and a solid training plan are important, but if the athlete is not willing to work hard they will never reach their full potential.


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