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4 Things Great Athletes Need To Succeed

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Great athletes, just like you and me, need a lot of things. If I tried to list them, all I would never publish this article. So, what are the essentials that all great athletes need? What are the key ingredients to the winning recipe?  When we hear about successful athletic stories, we rarely think about the keys to their success besides their hard work. Below are four things that great athletes need to be successful. If you remove any one of these four factors, success might still be possible; but it becomes a much more difficult process and much less likely.

A Supportive Parent

The biggest mistake a parent can make is to try and coach their kids (this doesn’t apply to parent coaches). If the parent and the coach coaches together, the athlete will suffer especially when their is a difference in opinion. The role of the parent in the coach-athlete-parent relationship is support.

According to SIRC -the world’s leading sport resource center, research from the past few decades shows that athletes burnout and dropout frequently due to parental pressures. They also discovered that if an athlete knows that he/she has a lot of parental support their intrinsic motivation and enjoyment of the sport increases significantly.

If you are a swim parent or guardian you need to be your kid’s biggest fan, not their coach or their critic, but their number 1 fan. This is crucial! Great athletes need support.

A Strategic Goal Plan

Settings great goals is only one part of success; developing a foolproof plan to reach those goals is another story.

On the road to success, you need a destination, a GPS, a well-defined path and the drive to get there. If you don’t have a destination the struggle will seem pointless, without the GPS you won’t be able to calculate your ETA, without a well-defined path the GPS won’t work, and without the drive you might just end up going in reverse.

Great athletes got where they are because they got inspired, set their goals, developed a plan to reach them and succeeded. You can be successful also, but you have to plan it.

Internal Motivation

If I gave you the chance to walk away from swimming today and never train again, would you take that opportunity? If the answer is yes, you have a dilemma. Several years ago, a coach overheard me debating which NCAA Division I school would offer me the most money and he solemnly said: “Whatever you do, do not swim for the money.”

Well I didn’t listen and I got the money; but just as he predicted, it was a nightmare and now that I am a coach I am realizing that in such situations the swimmer is not the only one who endures the nightmare. Whatever you do in life, you need to do it because you want to and you enjoy it. You can get inspiration from anywhere you like, but if your main source of motivation does not spring from within you, you will fall apart in hard times.

If you swim for any reason other than because you enjoy it, whether that reason be friends, parents, coaches, or ego, you will struggle much more than you need to. Great athletes are motivated because they love their sport.

Real Friends


Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker, once said: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.” If that is true then I think at your next practice you should probably pause before you hop in a lane and ask yourself if the people in that lane are reflective of your character. If yes, that’s great. If not, look at it as an opportunity to be a positive influence.

Listen carefully! If you really want to soar in life, find 5 people who inspire you to be who you want to be and spend as much time around them as possible. Surround yourself with excellent friends and great athletes! Those things you have on your Facebook profile do not count.

If you could add one more crucial thing to this list what would it be? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll tell you what I think about it.

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