By Mark V. Lonsdale
What makes a winner, and more importantly, how do you become a winner?
First and foremost, you need to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you have what it takes to succeed at whatever activity you set your mind to. This is the quiet confidence of the professional.
Not everyone can be good at everything, so select an activity that fires your imagination. Keep in mind that you are about to embark on a journey that will consume many hours of each day, six days of every week, and years of your life.
Accept that you will have to sacrifice other activities and personal interests to achieve your goals. Your training will become your passion.
Be prepared to train longer, harder, and smarter than your peers. Every day that you are slacking off, your opponents are training and improving. That said, it is also important to allow time for muscles to rest, recuperate, and adapt to the new demands.
Become a professional student of your chosen sport or activity. Read books and articles from those who have gone before you. Attend training seminars and clinics with national and international champions and coaches. Part of the journey will be testing and experimenting with your equipment and techniques.
Obtain the best equipment that you can afford. When in doubt, look to what the champions are using to win. Select equipment from manufacturers from which you one day hope to win sponsorship.
Set training goals. These should be small incremental steps that can be met and exceeded in a reasonable amount of time. Two months is a reasonable amount of time to expect to see improvement when training five to six days a week. The goals will often be based on improving training scores and then replicating those scores on game day in competition.
Be prepared to travel and to attend every competition you can. There is no substitute for competition experience and having the opportunity to observe and compete against the best. Competition experience also builds the mental toughness essential to becoming a winner.
Have a friend or coach video your performance in competition for post event self-analysis. The objective is not to celebrate your successes but to analyze your failures and flaws. Future training should be designed to turn weakness into strengths.