Practices, training sessions, recovery sessions, travel, film study, nutrition plan…and oh yes, the games. Athletes face several critical components to their schedules, and they cannot shortcut any aspect to their daily grind:
- Practices get players on the same page as their teammates while developing core skills to their activities..
- Training sessions keep their muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, etc. conditioned to perform their respective activities at a high level.
- Recovery sessions prevent fatigue and allow proper maintenance of athletes’ overall well-being.
- Lengthy transport is a staple of serious sporting competitions regardless of the activity — such as most NBA teams traveling well over 40,000 miles over the course of an 82-game regular season while constantly switching between time zones, dealing with jetlag, and not having any routines from constantly changing environments.
- Film study sessions get everyone on the same page with regards to assembling a gameplan and strategizing tactics.
- Proper nutrition and hydration — especially over the course of a long, grueling season — requires daily regimented dietary consistencies in getting the right amount of nutrients engrained in the body — day in and day out.
So much time spent away from home and on the road with their organizations. Add in the constant media frenzy with answering persistent questions about their lives and promoting their own selves on social media and the stressors remain endless.
How could they possibly have time for anything else with their lives?
After all, sports is the ultimate zero-sum game; for every winner, there’s a loser. For every success, there’s a failure. Nobody can hide from the results; hype and promise can vanish with just any poor performance and create misery in one’s life — look no further than two Top-15 overall quarterback picks Josh Rosen and Dwayne Haskins who could not even last two seasons before falling off of the NFL map (hopefully, both players can bounce back just to play in another meaningful NFL game).
Consequently, athletes face continuous uncertainty with their lives — from getting benched to getting traded to needing to move living situations to being one moment away from suffering a devastating injury that threatens their livelihoods. In the sports world, life comes at you fast and everyone must remain on edge at all times.
Despite this reality, many top-performing athletes exhibit a unique common trait: they have extremely well-balanced lives to win both on AND off the court. Take a look at a few examples here:
Arguably the greatest shooter of all-time, Stephen Curry has continued to win both on and off the court. 2-time MVP, 3-time champion and an array of shooting records on the court. A collection of signature shoes as his own Curry Brand with Under Armour. An own venture capital fund and philanthropic efforts. And last but not least, a tight-knitted family life with a wife, three kids, and other strong family relationships.
Stephen Curry somehow manages to thrive through it all while facing the rigors of the NBA grind; he had nothing handed to him in the NBA, working his way from a mid-major conference in Davidson to significantly transform the way basketball is played.
Similar to Stephen Curry, Russell Wilson has overcome the odds to have a prolific Hall-of-Fame career — all despite his undersize build and needing to transfer universities midway through his college career just to showcase his talents before becoming a 3rd-round pick and never missing a game in his NFL career. In fact, he has just missed two SNAPS in his 9-year NFL career and continues to remain at the peak of his powers…all while playing arguably the most physically dangerous sport out there.
Through the rigors of the NFL schedule and the cut-throat nature of the league, Wilson has balanced an incredible family life with a wife and three kids, his own investment firm Limitless Minds, his own gaming company Tally, and a long list of endorsements. Wilson manages a very stable all-around life while building a legendary football career.
The just-retired Philip Rivers never missed a start for the past 15 years, quarterbacking the unstable San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers for all but one of those years. The fifth-leading passer of all-time, Rivers was a universally respected player for his remarkable consistencies as he led one of the most prolific offenses in the league year-in and year-out.
Off the field, he may have balanced arguably the most intense family life with a wife and nine children along with a deep spiritual life as a devout Catholic, which led to Rivers’ decision to coach High School football at St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama from this upcoming fall.
Serena Williams is arguably the most decorated tennis player of all-time, regardless of gender with 39 Grand Slam titles — 23 singles, 14 doubles, and 2 mixed doubles championships — and 4 Olympic gold medals. She has been a professional for 25+ years and counting and has still continues to compete at the highest levels, reaching the past two Grand Slam semifinals.
Off the court, she has excelled beyond belief; a husband and a daughter (yet continuing to compete after pregnancy), her own successful venture capital firm in Serena Ventures with a $14 billion market cap, and some of the most prolific endorsements including Gatorade, Nike, PUMA, and Wilson.
So many more examples exist of top-performing athletes with diverse overall lives…including LeBron James, Tom Brady, the late Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Sue Bird, Alex Morgan…in fact, one could strongly argue that most of the world’s best athletes have multiple deep interests well beyond their athletic profession.
This goes against conventional wisdom of the 24/7 obsession required to succeed in life. We see endless amounts of rah-rah motivational speeches about needing to work all day, every day to achieve anything worthwhile in life.
Yet…prime examples of some of the best performing athletes tell a different tale; they balance family life, off-court interests, and their own overall wellness while playing at the highest level.
No universal method exists that will work for everyone. After all, every action and situation is unique; soccer has 11 different positions and is played in different environments with different groups of players; football has 22 different positions (offense/defense) with each requiring its own special skillset; basketball has 5 players on the court on each team at each time; baseball has 9 different positions on the field and rotating pitchers throughout the course of most games.
Even individual sports have different kinds of players — such as in tennis, with heavy-hitting servers, speed players, spin players, etc.
The same physical activities with the same universal objectives are achieved in a plethora of different ways. Strategies adjust depending on the situation and the unique advantage one player or a team of players has over the opponent.
This provides players with certain advantages against their peers. Those who embrace their uniqueness — no matter their position or activity — and develop their unique skillsets day-in and day-out have a MAJOR competitive advantage over their opponents.
Just look at the above four examples: Division-I schools did not offer ANY scholarships to Stephen Curry, an grossly undersized guard compared to an average professional basketball player, but his specialties in MASTERING the art of shooting, ball-handling, and scoring have led to one of the most transcendent careers of all-time. Russell Wilson, an undersized quarterback by any measure embraced his mobility and footwork to develop into one of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks.
Philip Rivers, the ANTI-Russell Wilson with a very immobile body uses deep film study to anticipate throws and effectively read defenses. Serena Williams uses her robust physical build to develop power in her shots.
By embracing their uniqueness, top-performing athletes and develop and maintain their identities to produce at a high level…over and over again.
With a deep understanding of their identities and unique advantages, each player develops personalized routines tailored to their individual styles. A deep understanding of self provides players with the understanding of what they need to do to prepare on their own time so they can get ready to perform in competition.
Through this and a clear understanding of their objectives, they can get more done in less time, allowing them to appropriately balance their lives to clear their heads. Time is the one currency that we can NEVER get back as human beings. We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
Those who utilize the time better can make the most out of their lives and accomplish more in less time. Success comes from the routines…repeated over and over again. A continuous improvement mindset directly aligned to players’ unique advantages puts them in a competitive advantage.
They never stop improving at what makes them so unique and special.
How do you think the top-performing athletes maintain such well-balanced lives?