Thursday, August 19, 2010 0:47 am
My Personal Best
Lessons I learned from top athletes.
By Marta Montenegro; Photography by Dania Graibe
The sporting world and its talented stars can teach us a lot about facing our own challenges in everyday life. As spectators or as players, most of us have a favorite sport. But what is the true appeal of sports for people of all age, sex, race and culture? I think it’s our human nature to compete for success. And that competitive character makes us excel and improve constantly. Just look at our cover subjects, NBA all-star Dwyane Wade and tennis ace Serena Williams—they define athleticism, effort and success.
Competition breaks us out of the comfort zone and brings out our best. That’s
why I make a point of training, working and living as if I were a professional athlete. I’ve had the honor of being around some of the best athletes, and this is what I’ve learned from them, on and off the court:
1. They have goals. Athletes know what they want to achieve in the short, mid and long term. They have a plan and stay focused on their objectives; however, they also know plans are not set in stone, so there’s room to make adjustments in the face of adversity. The use of visualization techniques (where you envision the moment where you actually reach your goal) is a crucial element toward developing an athlete’s mentality.
2. Losing makes them stronger. The best athletes analyze their mistakes, take responsibility and don’t lose focus. Evaluating an athlete’s worth solely based on stats or ranks would be a mistake because numbers don’t account for the will to win or efforts to overcome an unfavorable streak. Take tennis star Rafael Nadal, who dealt with the media’s unrelenting questions about falling from the top spot in the ATP rankings when he was No. 3. But instead of worrying about numbers and rankings, Nadal (who stands at No. 1 at presstime) would tell the media: “I just want to play well and that is all that I care about.”
3. They rely on teamwork. No matter how skilled you are, you need to have a great team supporting you if you want to be truly successful. The team becomes like a family, who are there for you through the good and bad. And a team can be as small as two people, as long as the loyalty and unwavering support remain strong.
4. They are human. Yes, athletes get nervous. They accept this as part of the game, but they work hard on overcoming their nerves. They take advantage of the adrenaline rush and think of how much they’ve prepared to be where they are. Still, athletes are not the super humans we sometimes make them out to be. Some days, they may not feel like working out or they “fall off the wagon” on healthy eating. Despite these lapses in their commitment to fitness, the next day these athletes will hit the gym hard and leave it all on the court.
Learn from the pros and create your own legacy. I know you can find your victory!
Have a question? Drop me a note! I am always here for my friends, my family and my wonderful community! Whether it’s a simple question about an exercise or advice to improve your diet and overall health, know that I’m available to answer your questions, from one fitness enthusiast to another.