Becoming The Best Athlete in The World

Wimbledon tennis sports psychologist

Mastering self-discipline is more than just a habit, it is a powerful and unstoppable mindset. When athletes make the decision to do things without the reminder from others and without the presence of others, this is when they become self-disciplined. Self-discipline is a skill that is not flashy, in fact it is a skill that often goes without being noticed at all.

Last year I had the privilege of working at Wimbledon, tennis’s most prestigious tournament. At Wimbledon, I saw many examples of what self-discipline looks like because I was able to go places where many couldn’t. In the locker rooms, there were players shadowing and practicing affirmations minutes before being called onto court. Those players, I will keep anonymous as confidentiality is a part of the job. I also witnessed healthy players receiving massages and treatment moments after their match making sure that their bodies would be fine tuned and ready to go for the next round. I witnessed past grand slam champions stretching and doing footwork drills alone when less than a hand full of people were present. None of which were a part of their team.

You see, many top players aren't doing great things for recognition or validation from others. They aren't looking around waiting for someone to say, "good job" or "way to go". Champions do it foremost for themselves, and because they have a world-class desire to be the best even when no-one is watching. These great habits are what culminates to the world-class levels that fans see on television and view live from all over the world.

However, everything begins behind the scenes. Usain Bolt said it best when he stated that, “the work is behind the scenes, the competition is the easy part." Sure every player enjoys the attention they receive when they are dominating on the biggest stage in their sport. However, many athletes do not put in the work to get there. Much of this lack of work begins with a weak, underdeveloped mindset. Athletes often follow the “status quo”. In many cases, this means pushing themselves only as far as they see their peers pushing.

I challenge every athlete to instead start with changing their belief system. As crazy and pompous as it may seem, players need to convince themselves that they are the best in the world at what they do. This does not mean that athletes should boast this belief system out loud; however, athletes need to instill a world-class belief system and then follow it up with executing world-class routines and actions day in and day out that reflect it. Muhammad Ali once said that, "I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was."

So stop measuring your work ethic based on your friends and current competitors. Even if you are a top college player, the goal is not to practice hard enough to compete better than these players. The goal needs to be to practice hard and smart enough to dominate at the highest level of your sport. Do what other players at your level won't do because it is too hard or too uncomfortable.

When you have a moment, sit down with a pen and paper and write out what your week will look like when you challenge yourself to be the best in the world. Write out what you will see differently in yourself, and how it will help you reach your ultimate goal and beyond. Finally, take pride in the pain that hard work demands. It's that pain that will turn your hard work into abundant success. Success that 99.99% of other athletes will only dream of when they see the end product of your dreams becoming a reality.