“Champions are made when no one is watching” – Unknown
There is no question that playing sports at elite levels requires an unwavering commitment and dedication. Between pre-season preparation, in-season competition, strength and conditioning sessions, team training, recovery sessions, film review, and at professional levels – sponsored events, media availability, and development clinics (to name a few) – there doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to lodge individual practice.
But the fact of the matter is, individual practice is an essential component of success at any sport. Individual practice is more deliberate and dedicated to building upon the strengths and bolstering any weaknesses of an athlete’s skill set. In turn, it is the individual reps that will fast-track development, build authentic confidence and create opportunities to compete at the next level.
“Skill is only developed by hours and hours of work.” – Usain Bolt
While committing to individual practice takes a whole lot of dedication, effort, and precious time – there are several benefits that athletes will experience from this commitment to themselves. Here are 5 benefits that lodging individual practice time can offer:
1. Increased Confidence:
Practicing and lodging individual reps into your skillset can help athletes develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their abilities. When athletes put in the effort to improve their skills and performance, they can see tangible results and feel a sense of satisfaction in their progress. This can lead to increased confidence both on and off the field.
2. Higher Level of Resilience:
Individual work can help athletes overcome obstacles and challenges. In any sport, there will be times when things don’t go as planned or when athletes face setbacks. However, those who have developed a strong work ethic are better equipped to handle these challenges and bounce back from them. This resilience can also contribute to increased confidence in their abilities.
3. Develop Mental Toughness:
Mental toughness is the ability to think positively in adverse situations. Putting individual work into your game can help athletes develop a growth mindset. This means that they view challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and improve, rather than as signs of inadequacy. This mindset can lead to increased confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
4. Build Discipline & Improved Focus:
Dedicating time to individual practice helps athletes develop a sense of discipline and focus. When athletes commit to putting in the effort to improve their skills and performance, they must also develop the discipline to stick to their training regimen and stay focused on their goals. This discipline and focus can translate to increased confidence both on and off the field.
5. Acquire Respect & Trust:
Putting in extra time, effort, and repetition into your own game gets noticed. Not only do you perform better but coaches and scouts, and even teammates are aware of who’s putting in extra effort and who’s not. In turn, this helps athletes develop a stronger camaraderie, trust, and respect for one another. This can lead to increased confidence in their ability to work together and achieve success as a team.
“You can’t cheat the grind, it knows how much you’ve invested, and it won’t give you anything you haven’t worked for.” – Unknown
Even though “time” may be the critical factor in lodging individual reps and repetition into muscle memory, the benefits that come along with this practice are unquestionable. So let’s create 3 strategies to prepare individual sessions to run like clockwork, no matter how much time is available.
- Set Clear & Specific Goals:
Creating clarity around your individual training nullifies the feeling of being overwhelmed and procrastinating, and in turn, increases the chances of the session getting done. This helps the athlete stay motivated and focused on what they want to achieve.
- Create a Structured Training Regimen:
Athletes should create a structured training regimen that includes both physical and mental preparation. Know what you’re working on, know when you’re working on it, and know why you’re working on the individual skill. This will create an authentic drive and cuts through the noise and excuses. Make it fun and make it rewarding because these are the reps that nobody sees yet it is evident when the lights shine brightest.
- Seek Feedback & Guidance
Whether it be through performance reflection, film review, or feedback and guidance from coaches and mentors. This helps the athlete identify blind spots as well as areas for improvement and opportunities to maximize ability in competition and stay on track towards their goals.
Individual Practice is the “secret sauce” to success. If we take the mind out of it, we can only be as good as the work we’ve lodged into our system and the skillset we’ve created. We can only ever maximize our potential or the ability we’ve created through our practice and repetition. That means if we’re working harder and smarter than anyone else and lodging more reps than anyone else – our potential will be greater than anyone else.
“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” – Shaquille O’Neal
Then it becomes a matter of focus. A matter of “trust.” A matter of performing from muscle memory…
But that’s a story for another time.
– 𝒞ℴ𝒶𝒸𝒽 𝒞𝒶𝓁.