How to Develop a Hungry Mindset in Sports

How Can You Improve Your Mindset?

Many athletes reach a point where they believe they have maxed their potential or can no longer improve. Some set career goals, and when they accomplish their objective, they become satisfied and lose their motivation to achieve more.

For instance, maybe you set a goal of playing in college. Throughout high school, you consistently pushed yourself in practice. 

In the summer, you attended clinics to sharpen your skills. During practices, you were motivated to refine your mechanics to maximize performance. 

During the offseason, you ran regularly to improve your conditioning and started a weight training regimen to increase your physical strength. 

During your senior year in high school, college coaches expressed an interest in you joining their team. 

Eventually, your work paid off during college tryouts, and your dream became a reality; you made the team!

However, after you achieved your goal, your performance leveled off. Instead of resetting your goal or furthering your game in college, you were just happy to be there.

A “satisfied” mindset often leads to regrets after an athletic career ends. Many athletes agonize over what could have been during their post-athletic careers. They wonder, “What could I have achieved if I had continued to work on my game?”

The opposite of a “satisfied” mindset is a “hungry” mindset. In a “hungry” mindset, you continually want more for yourself. You want to achieve greater heights, contribute more to your team, and maximize your athletic potential.

Athletes with a “hungry” mindset ask themselves, “What can I specifically do to further my game?”

Without a clear guiding principle, your progress can stagnate, leading to a plateau in performance. It’s crucial to have a guiding principle that keeps pushing you forward, even when you accomplish a long-term goal set early in your career.

For example, Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey averaged 25.9 points and 6.2 assists during the 2023-24 NBA regular season.

Maxey, now in his fourth season in the league, was named an All-Star for the first time and earned the Most Improved Player award for the 2023-24 season.

Maxey’s motto motivates him to strive to improve his game daily.

MAXEY: “My goal is to get one percent better every single day.”

Maxey has a “hungry” mindset, one he has cultivated throughout his athletic career.

MAXEY: “When I got drafted I said I’d work extremely hard and I’ll make sure it’s not a regret. I really meant those things. I wanna keep building and keep getting better every single day… It’s something that I preach. Something that I live by and it’s not fake or something I started last year. I’ve been saying that for a very long time. My pop’s been on me about it. He always said proper preparation prevents poor performance so, for me, it does really mean a lot.”

Consistent improvement throughout your athletic career requires motivation and a driven mindset. Taking an active role in fueling your motivation keeps your drive alive for long-term athletic success.

Create a motto, a guiding principle, that motivates you to push yourself mentally and physically, such as “one percent better every day.”

Write the motto on your equipment or an index card that you place in your equipment bag. When training is monotonous or boring, remind yourself of your motto to keep your motivation high.

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