Secrets of successful athletes
I want to tell you about the secret to long term athletic success. Now, the secret is actually consistency. Consistency is key. It’s easier to say than it is to do. I think everyone kind of knows that consistency is this big factor to becoming a great athlete. When we’re thinking about consistency, we’re talkin’ about being consistent with our skills training, being very consistent with our recovery, being consistent with our match play, and looking after our body in a consistent way.
It’s one thing to say it, it is another thing to action it. How we can start to action it though is through the pair of habits. We need to create habits of performance. There’s been a lot of great books over the last couple of years that can really help us with this, one being “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and another, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. There’s plenty of great resources on this stuff and I urge you guys to actually go and check them out. The idea of habits is that it makes decision making a lot easier because it is more automatic. Essentially, this is what a habit is, it’s an automated decision. It’s something that you’ve routinely done. If you think about brushing your teeth, at first when you very first had to learn it, your parents had to kind of force you into the habit of brushing your teeth. It was obviously for a good cause. And now, you should just quite simply just brush your teeth, just as a part of your morning routine. Yes, every now and again you might miss it, but the majority of the time, it’s gonna happen. Now, habits can be built or they can be broken. Sometimes we need to build good habits, and sometimes we need to break bad habits. An example for an athlete would be spending 30 minutes on skill work every day, or it might be doing strengthening and conditioning three times a week. You might have a sleep routine in place to help you recover better. You might have a specific recovery routine that you add to your end of your training sessions to help you recover better from that session, and therefore be able to train harder in the next session. Setting goals and getting in the habit of setting process goals, which is essentially just your habits leading into the main goal. So these are all things that, as an athlete, we can start to consider habits of performance.
How to create good habits
Now, I’m gonna use the structure of how to create a habit in Atomic Habits. I think James just structures it really well, nice and simple for us to understand. I do encourage you to go and either read his book or download it as an audiobook and listen to it on your drive to work. I’m just gonna discuss how to create good habits, ’cause I think by creating good habits, you start to eliminate bad habits anyway. But he also does discuss in the book how to break bad habits, which you may need to do. It can be very beneficial to break a bad habit before we start to build good ones. However, generally what I found is if we start to build good habits, it actually starts to filter out a lot of the bad habits, because to get your good habit done properly, you can’t have that bad habit in the way.
Make it obvious
So, the first thing is to make it obvious. Whatever your habit is, just make it really obvious for yourself. If it is, let’s say, go to the gym, maybe you need to set an alarm. Maybe you need to set a reminder, to tell you to go to the gym. Maybe the gym needs to be really convenient to get to. Maybe it needs to be easy to schedule into your time. Just make it so obvious that it’s hard to ignore. It’s like, bam, it’s just there.
Make it attractive
The next one is, make it attractive. The way we can do this is you can actually pair it with other actions that you already take. In particular, if you pair it with things that you actually like doing, or you need to do, then you can pair up this new habit with that thing. It’s almost like, “Okay, I wanna go to the shops ’cause “I need to buy my food.” But I might pair it with, “I’m also just gonna treat myself “and go and maybe get a new dress.” Or maybe get a new pair of shoes, or something like that. So pair it with something that you actually like doing with something that you need to do.
Make it easy
Next thing is to make it easy, and it’s just a two minute action to start off with. Make it super, super easy. Keep it nice and short, something that you can get done, but maybe on a very frequent scale. James talks about habits isn’t necessary about the quantity, it’s more just about the frequency, and how that’s kind of different is, essentially, the more often you can do this habit, the quicker it’s gonna stick. So the amount of times that you can do it is important as opposed to the amount of habits that you’re actually doing. Just stick to one and do it at a very high frequency, and once that’s kind of locked in, then you can move onto the next one.
Make it satisfying
The last one is, make it satisfying. So, add a little reward to your habit. I guess we’ve got to be careful with this as well, is to choose the appropriate reward that actually reflects the habit. But, this can slowly start to make, or create, a craving. Craving is one of these things where we get this nice little endorphin hit every time we complete this habit. And if we can start to create this satisfying effect, we’re gonna be more likely to do it, because you want that little endorphin hit, and endorphins is what makes us feel good. If we’re doing a habit that makes us feel good, we’re more likely to continue to do it. And this is where if you’re pairing with something attractive as well, that might be the little endorphin hit that comes with the habit that you’ve completed.
The importance message is that there are no real secrets, consistency is the key, and habits are how we can start to create consistency.