The Incredible Drive of Elite Athletes
What I have learned about myself is that I am an animal when it comes to achievement and wanting success. There is never enough success for me.
Golfer Gray Player
Many coaches believe that an athlete’s success depends on four factors: physical ability, physical training, mental training, and desire or drive. The percentages of these four factors may vary from athlete to athlete and even with the same athlete from game to game.
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Many psychologists say that it is the desire, the passion, and the ambition, that separates high achievers from the rest of the field, even from others with equal or more talent, whether they’re a banker, an author, or a baseball player. Superstars have almost too much drive to succeed and that sets them apart from the pack, said Steven Berglas, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School who works with professional athletes.
Inner Drive to Excel
Legendary players like baseball’s Pete Rose (who was not drafted by a major league team) and basketball’s Larry Bird didn’t necessarily have legendary physical prowess, but they made up for it with their motivation to succeed. They wanted it more than others did, so they did what it took to get it. They practiced harder, they studied their skills and their opponents, and they worked harder in games. They sacrificed their personal lives and gave up vacations. They took more risks. Their motivation seemed to come from desire, sometimes bordering on manic desire.
In his childhood, through his adolescence, and into his all-star days with the Boston Celtics, Bird seem to have an athletic inferiority complex. He recalled of his early years in the NBA: A lot of the time I thought about establishing myself as a professional, to prove I wasn’t too slow and all the other things that my critics said I was, or wasn’t.
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