Prepare Like a Starter So You Are Ready When Your Moment Comes
How has your motivation been affected when spending long periods of time sitting on the bench?
Some athletes work their butts off to prove they deserve more playing time. These athletes stay late after practice, hustle during scrimmages, give max effort during drills, work hard to improve their conditioning and put in the time to improve their technical skills.
Other athletes view sitting on the bench as a sign they are “not good enough” or “not talented.” Rather than proving themselves, these athletes find it difficult to stay motivated, and they eventually give up on themselves.
Don’t Devalue Yourself
When you devalue yourself as an athlete or fail to see yourself as a significant member of a team, you hold back in practice. When you lack motivation, your level of preparation and work intensity suffer.
Then, when you are suddenly thrown into a competition, you feel overwhelmed. When you don’t do the work, you will lack the confidence to compete to the best of your abilities. You are fearful of falling flat on your face. You compete cautiously and try to minimize mistakes instead of making the most of your opportunity.
Being a backup doesn’t mean you are inactive. Being on the sidelines doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still have a competitive mindset.
One example of a backup having a competitive mindset is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has backed up Carson Wentz, who most considered to be the franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.
Hurts was thrust into the starting role with four games remaining in the 2020 season. In his first game as a starter, Hurts led the Eagles to a 24-21 victory over the Division leading New Orleans Saints.
Philadelphia defensive end Brandon Graham praised Hurts’ preparedness, competitiveness and high level of motivation.
GRAHAM: “You can tell when a guy comes in and he starts having success, he’s been ready, he’s been waiting on his moment, he’s been making sure he’s sharpening his sword until his moment came and that’s exactly what you get. When he wasn’t in, he was supportive, he was out there working hard, out there trying to beat us every day and I think you started to see flashes of him getting better every day he was out there.”
Just because you are sitting on the bench doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever. Hurts prepared, knowing his time would come eventually, and he worked hard in preparation for that moment.
All athletes are competitive athletes, whether you are in a starter role or a backup role. Fostering your competitive mindset is critical to keep your mind in the game at all times.
How to Be Ready when your Number is Called:
How should I prepare as if I am a starter? What parts of my game should I focus on during practice and training? How should I mentally prepare for competition?
Be mentally and physically ready when your number is called. Support your teammates and embrace the chance to shine.
When you have a positive mindset about your role, you maintain a high level of motivation to prepare to the utmost of your abilities and feel more valued as a member of your team.
Want more football psychology articles?
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