How to Succeed Against the Odds in Sports

How to Succeed Against the Odds in Sports

What is the “It Factor” That Pushes Athletes?

Athletes who triumph over their circumstances often do so because they refuse to see the odds as stacked against them.

If you acknowledge something as impossible, you won’t work to make your dream a reality.

For example, if a baseball pitcher thought it was impossible to become a starter, would he work to improve his accuracy, velocity, or spin rate? 

Probably not, at least not to the level of becoming a reliable starter.

Likewise, if you believe you don’t have what it takes to compete at the college level because you only played one year on your high school varsity team, would you go all in to improve your skills, strength, flexibility, or mental skills?

Probably not.

Athletes who punctuate an unlikely story with a successful ending have a stout belief in themselves even when those around them doubt them.

Athletes who have a robust belief in themselves:

  • Are confident in their abilities or capacity to develop the skills necessary to perform at a high level.
  • Have an optimistic outlook even in challenging situations and believe in their ability to overcome obstacles.
  • Are resilient and bounce back quickly from setbacks. They view these setbacks as opportunities to grow their game and build mental toughness.
  • Are determined, motivated, and committed to their athletic goals.
  • Prepare diligently and are committed to the process of improvement.
  • Have a purpose, which is to uncover as much of their potential as possible.
  • Pay attention to their mental game and pursue all means necessary to be their best.
  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses and work to turn their weaknesses into strengths.
  • Are patient and willing to put in the work and remain patient in their pursuit of excellence.
  • Have unwavering self-belief and are not deterred by setbacks.

Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent was a 2023 undrafted free agent. At the start of training camp, Bagent was at the bottom of the depth chart.

In his first start filling in for injured QB Justin Fields, Bagent completed 21-of-29 passes and led the Bears to a 30-12 victory against the Vegas Raiders. 

Bagent is the only NFL quarterback to go from D-II QB to NFL starter in his rookie season.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus credited Bagent’s desire and work ethic as keys to his success on the field.

EBERFLUS: “[Bagent] is the same guy as he was last week. He’s prepared, he’s focused, he’s got that determined look in his eye.”

Bears rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott also took notice of Bagent’s elite-level preparation.

SCOTT: “[Bagent] is always prepared. That’s one thing I noticed because I sit next to him sometimes on the plane. He’s always watching film, always looking over the [playbook] because [you’re] one play away.”

Self-belief is the necessary component to achieve your potential. Once you lay the foundation, you will be willing to persist in your efforts to realize your goals.

Tip for Building Unstoppable Self-Belief

Building anything requires a goal and a plan. Spend time creating a clear vision of the athlete you want to become.

Ask yourself, “What must I do to reach my ultimate destination? What skills do I need to develop? How will I work on these skills? What level of intensity and focus will I need to put forth?”

Dedicating at least 15 minutes weekly to repeating this exercise will build undeniable self-belief. 

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