When we think of a competitive athlete, we think of people like Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins, Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens and Michael Jordan, former Chicago Bull. These players play the game with a passionate heart that will let nothing get in their way. They leave everything they have on the playing or practice field. They never give up no matter what. They are relentless. A relentless competitor is determined, ferocious, uncompromising, unrelenting and unstoppable! This article is for players who want to learn how to be a relentless competitor and for coaches and parents who want to help them get there.
Relentless competitors have grit and guts, they never give in or burn out, they have the intestinal fortitude to win every battle and do their all to win every game. They are mentally strong and overcome every criticism, challenge, setback or obstacle that crosses their path. They keep their eye on the ultimate goal and do not dwell on the negative. Rather, they look for solutions and just keep on ploughing through.
To be a relentless competitor, one must look at the overall picture. It’s not a one-time, one-game, one-practice thing, it’s a consistent attitude that is brought to every practice, game and season.
The good news is that becoming a relentless competitor is a learned skill. It is important to note that the drive to be relentless must come from within. Parents, coaches, mentors, teammates or any other outside parties can’t make you into a relentless competitor.
Here are seven things that you can do to help you learn and develop the skill of a relentless competitor:
1. PASSION. You have to find something that you love. When you find what you love, you will develop a passion for it. Passion gives a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement about practicing, training, and playing games, it helps build your desire and devotion. Playing and practicing with passion will eliminate your fears and help you to go into the danger areas, compete for pucks and do things above and beyond what you expect. Dan Coyle, author of the book, The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s Grown, says passion works in your brain like rocket fuel. It makes learning fast and fun. It helps you determine why you are playing and what gets you excited.
2. SET GOALS. You need to take the time to think about what you want, as all relentless competitors are goal driven. It’s best once you establish your goals to write them down on paper. The S.M.A.R.T. system is a very good formula to use for setting goals. It works as follows: Specific – you know exactly what you want. Measurable – you have to find a way to measure your goal so that you can keep track of your progress. Attitude – you have to be willing to put the time in and do the work, it is all about your attitude. Realistic – the goal must be doable. You have to develop a realistic plan that you can live up to, slightly stretch yourself! Timed – have a clear target date as to when you intend to reach your goal. When you have planned goals you can reevaluate and make changes as you go. By setting YOUR own goals (not those of coaches or parents), you will go for them with a firm COMMITMENT!
3. COMMITMENT CONTRACT. Make a deal with yourself. To even further firm up your commitment to be a relentless competitor, you can think about some of the things you need to do at practices and games. You can do this exercise for a segment of the season or a whole season or playoff run. Promise yourself you are going to do the things you say you are going to do. Pick four to six things and write them down in the form of a contract. For example: For the next 10 games I commit to: 1. Work hard and compete at every drill and in every game, 2. I will practice my one-on-one skills, making sure to play the body every time. Once the contract is complete, sign it, have a teammate sign it and a coach or parent sign it. With a commitment contract, you will increase your self confidence, boost yourself into action and give yourself the power to outwork and outperform all the athletes around you!
4. SELF TALK. As we all know, your worst enemy is yourself. How many times have you talked yourself into a mindset that you cannot do something or that you are too slow or too tired? We call this the “monkey mind.” Your mind will race all over the place and fill you with reasons why you cannot do something. You need to “tame the monkey” and be aware of what you are saying to yourself. Create a few statements that are related to your passion, your goals and your commitment contract. These statements must be positive, present tense and personal, such as, “I am a competitive player, I am first to pucks and am fearless when I go into the corners”. We call these statements affirmations. Write them down on a cue card that you carry with you and repeat your affirmations several times a day. Repeat any of the affirmations that are related to your on ice play when you are out there. Affirmations help you stay focused, positive, control the monkey mind and take out any fear of failure!
5. AVOID COMPARISONS TO OTHERS. There are always athletes that are not as talented as you or athletes that are better than you. Comparisons to others are not going to help you. Use your energy to compare yourself to yourself. After practices and games, rate yourself, keep a journal—how did it go, what can you do better? At the next practice or game, review your last one and prepare yourself to compete harder and be better. You will get better by keeping a comparison of yourself and not others. Be prepared to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. That is how you will get better and become a relentless competitor!
6. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. We all make mistakes but it’s imperative that we don’t dwell on them. Analyze what happened, learn from it and let it go! The most competitive athletes have poor short term memories when it comes to mistakes. Spend more time and energy on your successes. How did it feel during that game when you were in the zone and winning every battle? Visualize it and keep a movie in your brain. Have a “growth mindset” and focus on the positive and most of all on your 100 per cent effort.
7. STUDY THE GAME. You have a passion for your sport. Take the time to watch games on TV. Watch the most competitive players. Watch players like Lucic (power forward) and Gallagher (skill player). Check out their techniques, how they angle when going into corners, how they are first on pucks, how they compete. Pick your own superstar. Even though you are a unique individual and you have to be yourself, you can mimic and act like your idol.
As a final reminder, having a passion for something and being a relentless competitor must come from within. Parents, coaches, teachers, friends, and advisors cannot do it for you! It is a learned skill that you can and must work on every day.
“If you’re going to be a real athlete—you better be relentless—for us it’s all about the next play. It does not matter what happened on the last play. Every new play has a life and history of it’s own—that’s what you focus on.” - Alan Williams (from teammatesmatter.com)Back to Top
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