What Makes a Great Athlete

As you run down the field – college recruiters in the stands – you see your opportunity to score a goal and you fight to make that vision a reality. Athletes all over the world and in every league, are working to succeed and become great athletes. Depending on who you are and what sport you play, your ideal athlete looks different. They may be strong, fast, or just intelligent players. 

The physical abilities of an athlete can make or break a career after high school. In many sports, including soccer, lacrosse, and track, speed is essential for the best plays. And having the smarts to be able to visualize and carry out those quick plays is very important. Being able to analyze your opponent and your own teammates as well as having the endurance to keep going are important factors in becoming a great athlete. A lot of these traits depend on your sport.

“When you think about great athletes you think about explosiveness, quickness, strength, and mobility,” soccer coach Josh Hill said. “For soccer, during tryouts we look at their technical ability, how good they are in terms of their soccer skills, dribbling shooting, athleticism, are they in shape, their speed, and endurance.

However, without certain mental characteristics, these physical traits soon become wasted. Without the hard work and the desire to become better, and to improve themselves, some athletes may fall behind their peers. Mental toughness and drive are arguably more important than an athlete’s physical abilities.

“Playing takes a lot of willpower, and you have to want to be good,” senior lacrosse player Gesena Mitchhart said. “If you aren’t going out of your way to try hard and do different things to be better and to improve, then you’re going to sit on the bench and you won’t ever succeed.”

Hard work and practice outside of school is obvious. Teammates and coaches can see the extra effort you put into your sport. Practicing dribbling drills, passing a ball around, or going for a hard run is the kind of work pays off and makes you a better athlete. Setting goals and working to achieve them outside of practice allows you to get ahead and become a successful athlete.

“Skills require a lot of repetition, and a lot of those things you learn at an early age when you are learning to become an athlete. There are even studies, like in soccer, where the amount of repetition it takes to acquire a skill is in the thousands. The people I’ve seen that excel in sports are not just the Tuesday and Thursday practice players. People that are really good at something go beyond what they are required to do to be on the team,” Coach Hill said. 

Improving yourself might seem easy enough, but motivation and inspiration go a long way in that. With the right motivation and mindset, you can go farther in your career and become more like those who you look up to. Throughout the girl’s lacrosse season, players are pushed by their teammates and coaches to do better and play harder. 

Mitchhart said, “I just like playing. It’s fun, but it’s not fun when you suck. So I try to do my best because then your team is happier, you’re happier and everything just works a lot better. And sometimes, even though practice may not be super fun to do at the moment, you have to do it because it pays off later, and it makes you a better teammate.”

Being a successful athlete takes physical and mental skills. Things like a good work ethic, endurance, intelligence, a healthy mindset, and effort in and out of practice, are the basic makings of a great athlete.

By Mallory Neff, staff writer

Featured photo by Jessica Stamp

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