Over the years I am convinced that athletes make clear choices about their level of achievement, it has nothing to do talent or ability (Some of the most talented athletes I have been around have chosen not be the best). It clearly comes to attitude and desire to be the best. Here are the three levels of achievement from my experience:
Good – They have no idea what winning is or what it takes. They look at winners as freaks or exceptions. They just do the workout. There is no more effort expended than necessary. In essence they are ticking the box, to them just getting it done is good enough. They are very comfortable being comfortable. They hide from work where possible and when they do work they do the minimum.
Better – They want to win to win but have no clear idea how to, they still see it as a mystery or a gift. They do train the practice; they give an effort and occasionally will rise to the occasion and go above and beyond. They will get uncomfortable when pushed but seldom of their on volition. They see work as a sacrifice. Often they are consistently inconsistent just showing enough to lead you to think that they will break through. In many ways these are the coach killers.
Best – They know how to win because they win the workout everyday not just on game day. They are hungry they need to win. They see work as an opportunity to improve not a sacrifice. They are comfortable with being uncomfortable all the time and they make everyone around them uncomfortable with their intensity and will be the best. They push the envelope mentally and physically. Failure is not in their vocabulary. What we see as failure they see as stepping-stones. These are the athletes you want to coach and build your team around. They will find a way. They will challenge as a coach everyday to get better so they can get better.
Our job as coaches is to push, pull, prod, educate, cajole the athlete to understand what it is to be the best and help them make the choice to get there. It is the process that makes coaching incredibly difficult and very rewarding at the same time.