A Determined Mindset In Sports
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said it best, “The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.”
Every athlete wants to succeed, whether it is getting more playing time, breaking into the starting lineup, making big catches more consistently, or hitting longer field goals.
Even though all athletes desire success, most players are not willing to do the necessary work to succeed.
Instead of trying to improve, some football players get derailed by negative comments from coaches, being benched, or a bad performance.
It is easy to put in the effort when things are going well, but staying focused and disciplined when things are not going your way requires an iron will. This “push forward” mindset is the hallmark of greatness.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins quarterback, is a great example of an athlete who benefits from a determined mindset.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, Kirk Cousins (a projected 2nd rounder) was selected 102nd in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins. To complicate matters, the Redskins earlier traded up to the second overall pick to grab Robert Griffin III and anointed him the future of the franchise.
Cousins went into his rookie season with the mindset of “it’s not how you start that counts but how you finish.”
Cousins’ iron will help him beat the odds, become the Redskin’s starter and set the Redskins record for most passing yards in a season.
COUSINS: “I thought an NFL career would be a marathon, not a sprint. Just because the first step in the process wasn’t what I wanted didn’t mean it would change the long haul.”
Cousins’ focus has been on raising his level of play as he has looked for new ways to improve his preparation each day.
Even when he was benched in 2014, Cousins responded by upping his preparation even more.
Cousins optimized his preparation in several ways:
- Seeking advice from former NFL executives
- Taking extra reps on the practice field
- Working one-on-one with his quarterbacks coach
- Personally scouting other teams
- Creating journals with detailed notes on opponent player’s tendencies
- Studying game films
- Working with personal speed and agility coaches
- Working with mental trainers to improve decision making skills
Cousins’ preparation paid off as he threw for 29 touchdowns and led the Redskins to a playoff birth.
COUSINS: “There is no entitlement in the NFL. You’ve got to prove it every day. Even Tom Brady had to compete; he had to earn his spot, day in and day out, year in and year out. So I just felt like I’ll keep competing and showing what I could potentially do, and let [the Redskins] do what they want to do.”
You may not be able to control your genetics but you have 100% control of your mindset, work ethic, and preparation.
How will you be persistent in your preparation and better equipped to outlast adversity?
This strategy will help forge your will and increase your level of preparation:
Identify two new things you will commit to doing to up your level of preparation (mental training, speed and agility, film study, etc.). Determine how many hours per week you will dedicate to these areas and how you will respond when you hit those inevitable roadblocks.
No matter what… be patient and keep focusing on how to improve your game and preparation.
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